2096. "False Offits"
- the complete version of my review of Paul A. Offit, M.D.'s "Autism's False Prophets - Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure"
- credited to: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
- published on my "Critic" website on July 21, 2022
Paul A. Offit, M.D.'s "Autism's False Prophets - Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure"
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 1-20, 2022
"False Offits": http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/CriticOffits.html
I'd already read 2 bks on autism before reading this one. The 1st was Elizabeth Fein's "Living on the Spectrum - Autism and Youth in Community" (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4389192320 ). That one's by a friend of mine & I found it reasonable. The 2nd was Andrew J. Wakefield's "Callous Disregard-Autism and Vaccines-The Truth Behind A Tragedy" (See my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4486376528 ). Wakefield has been widely lambasted so I decided to give him a chance & to read what he has to say in defense of both himself & his medical findings & opinions.
I also decided to read "Autism's False Prophets" to give consideration to the opinions of one of Wakefield's critics & to learn more about what I take to be common medical opinions re autism. This, understand, was done in the spirit of at least making an attempt to be fair to a medical industry & philosophy that I generally have a highly critical opinion of. The inside front cover blurb gives the reader an idea of what to expect:
"Paul A. Offit, a national expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them."
The mood is immediately set that Offit represents 'objective truth' & that he's going to put those who disagree w/ him in their place as scoundrels. One thing that I appreciated about Wakefield's "Callous Disregard" is that he was more nuanced in his positioning, he gave substantial scientific backing for his opinions & conclusions, & he didn't depict everything in terms of good guys vs bad guys. Offit doesn't either, at least not all the time, but his approach immediately strikes me as arrogant.
To be direct, I've spent my whole life as what one might call a creative outlaw. The so-called 'straight' world (& I'm not referring to sexuality here) has been my adversary for as long as I can remember, since I was a small child. Offit strikes me as typifying, even exemplifying, the self-righteousness that characterizes people who've always been mainstays of the status quo. Offit's a BELIEVER: he knows he's 'right' &, from 'on high', he's going to tell the SHEEPLE that he is their leader & that to disagree w/ him shows a person to be a fool. Obviously, my attitude is showing that I strongly disagree. For me, Offit's narrative embodies an unquestioned paradigm - he's essentially a priest of the new religion, unquestioned science, science that's implied to be monolithic.. but isn't.
At the end of the back inside cover it's stated that "Paul Offit will donate all royalties from sales of this book to autism research." Even if I thought Offit is a poor man I wdn't be impressed by that b/c I'd have to think that autism research is the way to go, wch I don't. Non-institutionalized support groups, such as friends, are much more promising - & also a sort of 'vanishing species' in today's enforced social distancing environment.
However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Recently, I've been reading science bks, esp medical science bks, for the layperson. Some are written by people w/ standard accreditation, such as this one; some are written by autodidacts. I tend to prefer & identify w/ the latter. However, I've found ideas I value in all the bks. The challenge, for me, is to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. In other words, I'm not going to 'blanket-accept or reject' anything by anyone based on the degree to wch I can relate to their societal position. Nonetheless, I feel that it's important to try to analyze what subtexts I find underaddressed b/c I think they're more profoundly influential on the conclusions presented than will be otherwise apparent.
In his "PROLOGUE" Offit states that:
"I get a lot of hate mail.
"Every week people send letters and e-mails calling me "stupid," "callous," an "SOB," or "a prostitute." People ask, "How in the world can you put money before the health of someone's baby?" or "How can you sleep at night?" or "Why did you sell your soul to the devil?" They say "I don't have a conscience," am "directly responsible for the death and damage of hundreds of children," and "have blood on [my] hands." They "pray that the love of Christ will one day flood [my] darkened heart." They warn that my "day of reckoning is coming."" - p xi
Giving Offit the benefit of the doubt that he's telling the truth, I find this outpouring of contempt for him to be very unfortunate & uncalled for - despite my disagreeing w/ him over many things. A theme throughout the bk is that the people who disagree w/ him are ignorant religious people, people too stuck in the dark ages (although he doesn't exactly express it that way) to understand the enlightenment of his scientific position. NOW, I'll quote some of the reviews that're on Goodreads of Wakefield's "Callous Disregard". Since Wakefield is presented by Offit as backed by the religious people, these attacking reviews are presumably written by pro-science people:
"poorly written book by a disgraced doctor with an introduction by a playboy centerfold. the sequel to this, Charlatan by pope brock is much better written and shows how medicine like wakefield's can succeed."
"I would give this book zero starts if I could. This book is incredibly difficult to follow and poorly written. It screams of a child caught doing something bad who is saying, "Yea, I was caught and did something wrong , but ........" Not worth your time."
"My contempt for this man and his book knows no bounds."
"Wakefield has caused an incredible amount of harm to the world with his theories, none of which have ever held up to scrutiny. He used a sample of 12 children and from that declared MMR dangerous and recommended cessation. That is about as irresponsible as it gets. His study has been reviewed and analyzed, and millions of children in several countries have been studied, and not once has he been validated.
The best thing that could happen is if his works are gathered up, put in a pile and burned, except for a single copy to be placed in a museum under lock and key. It can be a warning to us all what irresponsibility can lead to."
"Andrew Wakefield is a fraud and a hack. His falsified data and bogus science has caused thousands of deaths, yet people continue to believe him because it fits their Big Pharma and government "mind control" narrative. There's a reason why his medical license was revoked - he's a total disgrace to the profession and should be locked up for life."
Now, obviously, I chose the negative reviews. Fortunately, there're positive ones as well. What I hope to show here is that the people who agree w/ Offit are just as likely to be as hateful & ignorant as the people who disagree w/ him. 2 of them call the bk "poorly written" - but I've read it & found it reasonably well-written. The challenge for the lay reader is that it uses a fair amt of specific medical jargon to explain Wakefield's findings. The average lay reader is likely to find that too difficult a hurdle. The reviewers feel free to call him "disgraced" & a "fraud and a hack". One makes the unsubstantiated claim that "His falsified data and bogus science has caused thousands of deaths", another calls for the burning of his bks & says he shd be "locked up for life." It seems likely to me that Wakefield has been subjected to far more abuse than Offit has & that Offit is one of the reasons for this abuse. In other words, Offit is far from innocent. NEITHER OF THEM SHD BE SUBJECTED TO SUCH HATEFULNESS.
Offit is from where I spent the 1st 40 yrs of my life. As such, that gives him a slight prejudice on my part in his favor b/c I can relate to his origins: "I grew up in a suburb outside of Baltimore." (p xi)
Offit describes childhood influences on his wanting to become a doctor. The narrative is of a typical sort: sensitive-caring-person-perceives-suffering-in-the-world-that-they-set-out-to-alleviate. I assume that for many people this narrative is genuine. For me, however, I'm somewhat distrustful of what goes unsaid.
"I also remember how hard it was for the other children in the ward, horribly crippled and disfigured by polio. As I got older, the image of those children remained. I wanted to protect them, to make them feel better, to champion their causes. So I became a pediatrician and later a pediatric infectious disease specialist." - p xiii
To some people, I may seem to be being horribly cynical - but, to me, I'm just being realistic: this image of the doctor as the champion of good is a bit too pat for me, it's too much a standard public relations poster boy thing. I wonder whether Andrew J. Wakefield has a similar tale to tell of his early inspiration to be a doctor. If he does, he didn't tell it in "Callous Disregard" - not that I remember, at least.
My questions about those kids in the hospital ward suffering from polio are: 1. How many of them were vaccinated? In other words, how many of them either got polio despite the vaccination OR how many got polio b/c of it? It's unclear to me whether Offit's story is from polio vaccine times or before. If it was 1956, as the narrative seems to imply, the Salk vaccine wd've been available for at least a yr. 2. How many of the children were made sick or sicker in the hospital? I don't see hospitals as necessarily a place where people are only helped - I see them as places where people are often harmed. Either way, they're always charged - & that's pretty damned important. Maybe Wakefield is greedy.. but how many doctors aren't?! Not many, I'd wager - & I doubt that I'd be able to count Offit among them. If he's lived at the level of poverty that I have for most of my life I'd be impressed - but there's no way that that's likely. According to https://networthpost.org/net-worth/paul-offit-net-worth/ his net worth is 1.6 million.
"I went to college in Boston and medical school in Baltimore before training in pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh." - p xiii
Ok, there's the Baltimore connection again AND there's a Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh w/in sight of my current house. It's not, however, the same children's hospital. The one I can see was created anew in 2005, long after Offit was there. It helps abate my cynicism slightly when I can identify w/ physical particulars.
"Because modern medicine is incapable of preventing diseases, it's enormously frustrating. But the measles vaccine has been around for more than thirty years. It works and it's safe. Still, these parents had chosen not to protect their children." - pp xv-xvi
I find that language rather manipulative. 1st, I think that "Because modern medicine is incapable of preventing diseases, it's enormously frustrating" might be better expressed as 'Because modern medicine is incapable of preventing diseases, there's no good reason to trust it.' 2nd, the claim that the measles vaccine "works and it's safe" goes strangely against the 1st sentence, does it not? If "modern medicine is incapable of preventing diseases" then how exactly is it that the measles vaccine works? 3rd, saying that "these parents had chosen not to protect their children" b/c they reject the vaccine is out-&-out lying propaganda of the worst sort: parents who reject getting their children vaccinated do so b/c they think that the vaccine will do more harm than good, they haven't "chosen not to protect their children", they've chosen to protect them - they may be wrong - but they're not necessarily ignorant religious fanatics.
Now, keep in mind that Offit's PR hype presents him as "a national expert on vaccines". In fact, his specialty is working on rotaviruses: "We found if we inoculated rotaviruses into the mouths of baby mice, they would get diarrhea. For the next ten years we worked to determine the parts of rotavirus that made mice sick and the parts that evoked a protective immune response. Then we constructed a series of combination rotaviruses-made from cow and human strains-that protected mice without causing disease. We were confident we had made a vaccine." (p xiv) No doubt he was pd very well for this.
I'm reminded of a former friend of mine. She was born rich, she went to a university that cost something like 3 times as much a yr as what I made working. She got a well-paying job as a union organizer. Her heart's in the right place. After 10 yrs or so, as far as I know, she'd been pd over a half-million to organize a union but, gee, hasn't done it yet. It appears that only her heart's in the right place & the rest of her is out-to-lunch. Do you get my drift?! These people who fancy themselves to be so smart expect to be able to have an indefinite amt of time to do their job & to be pd very well for doing so.. even if they fail.
Now, imagine someone who isn't using the 'I'm-so-smart-&-what-I'm-doing-is-so-hard-you-really-wdn't-understand' card: a plumber comes to yr house b/c you need yr toilet fixed, you've been having terrible diarrhea b/c you're addicted to cheap Mexican fast food. You're paying the plumber $150 an hr to get that diarrhea-filled toilet up & running again. 10 yrs later he's still at it. He's now a millionaire. He explains to you w/ a very straight serious face why it's so damned hard for him to do. He's tried every plunger known to man but he's had to have some specially made in Wuhan, China, & he has to pay a research team to design them. Let's face it, a real plumber wd have the job done in half a day - & even then that wd be extreme. If you're lucky, he might even give you some worldy advice gratis about changing yr eating habits.
"During the next ten years, I saw several children come into our hospital with pneumonia caused by whooping cough, or severe skin infections caused by chickenpox, or meningitis caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), because their parents chose not to vaccinate them." - p xvi
You see? This is the way it works: the parents choose against vaccination & the children imediately break out in a disease, it's the decision that causes it! Eureka! All the drs have to do is get everyone to make the decision that they dogmatically present as the ultimate wisdom & no-one will get sick again! Too bad that totally flies in the face of all reality given that people who get vaccinated still get sick all the time - & it's not just "several" of them either!!
Even though I find Offit to be a transparently dishonest person b/c of the manipulative language he uses, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt again in regards to the following story:
"After I appeared on MSNBC, an extreme anti-vaccine activist called our home; later, our eleven-year-old daughter asked whether I thought anyone would ever hurt me. While I was on a federal advisory committee to the CDC-one that had made recommendations about the use of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal in vaccines-I got a death threat. A man from Seattle wrote, "I will hang you by your neck until you are dead!" I called the CDC, which sent the e-mail to the Department of Justice, whch sent it to the FBI. The threat was deemed credible, and for the next few years an armed guard was placed at the back of advisory committee meetings; for the first few months, he followed me to and from lunch, a gun hanging at his side." - p xvii
Now, it's funny: poor people often live in neighborhoods where one's life is more threatened than that on an almost daily basis - but, for us, the police are as much a part of the threat as the less legal violent people are. & we don't get our very own guard. I'm not in favor of Offit having his life threatened. Strangely, perhaps, I'm a 'live & let live' type - but the armed guard thing just highlights the haves & the have-nots.
"Some people who believe vaccines cause autism hate me because they think I'm in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry, that I say vaccines are safe because I am paid to do it. To them, it is logical that I would spend twenty-five years working on a rotavirus vaccine-a vaccine that has a chance of saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year-so that I could lie about vaccine safety and hurt children." - p xvii
Again, I find the language manipulative. He essentially 'puts words in the mouths' of people who distrust him & disagree w/ him. Are they saying 'it is logical' that Offit wd 'spend twenty-five years working on a rotavirus vaccine' 'so that [he] could lie about vaccine safety and hurt children'? OR are they saying something more like this: 'Offit is being paid well by companies that have extreme profit motives to do something that he believes in but that may have the opposite effect than what it's purported to.'
What's illogical, to me, is that a person wd get wealthy spending "twenty-five years working on a rotavirus vaccine" "that has a chance of saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year" [emboldening mine]. 25 yrs & millions of dollars spent on something that produces a "chance". These claims by pro-vaccine people that "hundreds of thousands of lives" are saved every year have always struck me as hard to prove. I can say: 'I prayed to the Medical Industry God that 400,000 children wd not die this year &, Lo & Behold!, 400,000 children did not die!' but there are always people who might point out that a lesser number of child deaths might be due to other causes such as improved nutrition, etc.. OR they might point out that the statistics used to 'prove' the claims are suspect.
"In 1916, polio became an American disease. In New York City alone, in one summer the virus paralyzed 10,000 people and killed 2,000. No one knew what was causing it." - xix
Statements like this are very dramatic & impressive but there's always the question of: According to whose statistics?! Furthermore, did any of those people paralyzed or killed have this happen to them while under doctor's care?! To me, there's far more of a likelihood of people being harmed by doctors & hospitals than ever seems to be generally admitted to - esp not by doctors & hospital staff.
"Doctors offered treatments that were equally absurd. They injected adrenaline or fresh human saliva into the spines of infected children, or they took spinal fluid from infected people and injected it back under the skin." - p xix
To me, the above "absurd" attempts at cures are essentially of the same ilk as vaccination. The initial smallpox vaccination, e.g., consisted of taking pus from cow pox, cutting the patient's arm, & smearing the pus in the wound. The basic theory of that practice hasn't changed much over the centuries - or, at least, not until the recent GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) variations. Offit is a BELIEVER, he believes in the type of vaccination he works on - & he ridicules a large variety of other possibilities. I'm not convinced that they aren't all ridiculous, including what Offit believes in.
"Today we see George Retan's polio cure as ill conceived and barbaric. But that's only because we know what causes polio and how to prevent it." - p xx
Really? The older I get & the more I observe the Medical Industry at work the more I see one 'cure' generating one or more side-effects that then have to be 'cured' by things that generate even more side-effects ad infinitum. The basic premise of Western medicine, at least, is that outside forces, usually from nature, attack & debilitate the body. It seems more accurate to me to say that most ailments are caused by self-inflicted toxins - or, at least, human-manufactured toxins - that cause the body to react in certain defensive ways that're best ameliorated by reduction of toxin-intake. In other words, nature isn't humanity's enemy as much as humanity is - & the Medical Industry's whole philosophical basis is a large part of what aggravates the situation.
"In 1998, a researcher in London scared parents by claiming that autism was caused by the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine known as MMR." - p xx
The researcher referred to here is Andrew J. Wakefield. I won't 100% back Wakefield b/c there was a tiny bit too much 'legalese' in the bk of his that I read, "Callous Disregard", & he did, apparently, write that bk to present himself in a good light, but, still, Offit's presentation of what Wakefield did is the standard version. The following is an excerpt from my review of Wakefield's bk in wch I try to give a more accurate representation of what he, at least, claims was his actual poisition. I find it believable partially b/c it's too complex for most people to take in. Hence, it gets reduced to Offit's version.
"Wakefield & his fellow doctors got young patients referred to them who were experiencing gastrointestinal distress AND developmental regression that may've been autism. Some of the parents claimed that these problems started shortly after they rc'vd their MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccinations. Clinical study of the patients suggested that the vaccination in a minority of recipients might possibly be causing gastrointestinal problems & that these problems could be so severe that the children were unable to develop any further in a normal way but were, instead, regressing under the influence of extreme pain & inadequate digestion of nutrients. It was never claimed by Wakefield & co that the MMR vaccine directly caused autism. It was, instead, suggested that the connection between the MMR vaccine & the gastrointestinal problems in some children, not all, merited further investigation - as did the relationship between the gastrointestinal distress & arrested & regressed development. The patients were mostly very young. Wakefield took the position that single-disease vaccinations were safer b/c they were less of an assault on the body." - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4486376528
That's a different kettle of fish, isn't it?! It's interesting to note that Offit sd: "We found if we inoculated rotaviruses into the mouths of baby mice, they would get diarrhea. For the next ten years we worked to determine the parts of rotavirus that made mice sick and the parts that evoked a protective immune response." (p xiv) In other words, Offit noted a connection between a virus & diarrhea. Wakefield & fellow colleagues noted a connection between a virus (specifically a certain type of Mumps vaccine) & gastroinestinal distress that included diarrhea. Is there really that much of a difference?
As for Wakefield scaring parents? Since when do doctors do anything but scare parents when they're making dire predictions of death-dealing pandemics? In my opinion, what I call the recent "PANDEMIC PANIC" has shown fear-mongering pushed to an incredible extreme. Here're some relevant quotes from Wakefield's bk:
"an experimental vaccine combination measles and rubella (MR) that was administered to approximately 8 million UK school children over a 1-month period in November 1994. The justification for the campaign was a mathematically-predicted measles epidemic. The principal architects of the campaign were Salisbury and his boss, Dr. Kenneth Calman, the UK's Chief Medical Officer. Through an intense and frightening advertising campaign, 3 parents were motivated to get their children revaccinated by the threat of up to 50 deaths from measles." - p 77
"3 Minutes of JCVI meeting May 5, 1995; 6.5 para 2. HEA measles/Rubella campaign report: The HEA [Health Education Authority] did acknowledge the view that the TV advert used had been a little frightening, and also that not enough information on the possible side-effects of the vaccine had been provided for some people." - endnote 3, p 82
Back to Offit:
"Today, autism also has many well-intentioned doctors who offer parents hope for an immediate cure. But, like Retan's, their therapies, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, don't help and occasionally hurt those who are most vulnerable." - xxi
Again, that just sound like typical medicine to me - cures that don't help that cost outrageous amts of money. It's easy to at least give the impression of being "well-intentioned" when there's so much profit to be made. It's also easy to assuage one's conscience by believing that one is doing good - even if reality nibbles away at that delusion from time-to-time.
"The first to offer a cure for autism was Bruno Bettelheim, a Viennese-born psychoanalyst, Bettelheim believed he had found the problem: bad mothers. He reasoned that such mothers, whom he called "refrigerator mothers," caused autism by treating their children coldly, freezing them out." - p 3
"But a closer look at Bettelheim's school showed his claims of success were fraudulent. Worse: his accusations caused mothers to feel guilty and ashamed." - p 3
Interesting. I'm not really familiar w/ Bettelheim's work but I did quote an article of his that was published in Scientific American (Joey: A "Mechanical Boy" (Scientific American Offprint: Scientific American, March 1959)) in my movie "Robopaths" (on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/-PR7C8nFKtA - on the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/Robopaths ). No doubt there are all sorts of people whose emotional impact on others is negative, even devastating, & "refrigerator mothers" wd be among them - but I have to side w/ Offit here & find that causing "mothers to feel guilty and ashamed" is likely to be counterproductive. I also strongly doubt that one such psychological cause cd have such a profound effect as to cause autism or that there are so many "refrigerator mothers" that autism wd be so widespread as a result. Whether Offit's claim that "a closer look at Bettelheim's school showed his claims of success were fraudulent" is true or not is a different story.
"Since the mid-1990s, the number of children with autism has increased dramatically. Now as many as 1 in every 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with the disorder. Two phenomena likely account for the increase. First, the definition of autism had broadened to include children with milder, more subtle symptoms." - p 3
"Second, in the past children with severe symptoms of autism were often considered mentally retarded. Today, as the number of children diagnosed with severe autism has increased, the number with mental retardation has decreased." - p 4
Offit does provide endnotes w/o having numbers w/in the text refer to specific ones. The endnotes are just organized according to what chapter & page they're relevant to. As such, a scholar wishing to read substantiation of the above-quoted claim wd have to look at the 4 citations for chapter 1, page 4 & deduce whether they'd shed any further light on the subject. In this case, as far as I can tell, this is not the case. Nonetheless, I'm inclined to believe that increased diagnosis is an important factor in the apparent increase in autism. However, I'm also inclined to think that it's probably not the only factor. Instead, I tend to think that there're probably other socio-environmental factors at play - such as an increased mechanization of how humans are expected to behave - what I might call a "refrigerator society". Moreso, I think it's likely that there're physical factors of the most importance - esp ones, as Wakefield postulates, that cause health problems that inhibit development & result in regression.
In elucidating one of the treatments for autism that Offit later renounces he mentions a process of "facilitated communication":
"Using facilitators, who held children's hands while guiding their fingers to letters on a keyboard, Biklen believed that autistic children could communicate." - p 6
"The results were amazing. With the help of facilitators, children with autism typed out messages that filled their parents with hope" - p 7
My reviewer's note to myself was: "How do we know it's not the facilitators?" &, yes, that's the criticism that's later directed at this method. SO, here's an instance where I won't 'throw out the baby with the bathwater', meaning that even tho I'm highly distrustful of much of the basis for Offit's position this is an instance where I can agree w/ him.
"and she said, 'Do you know Stacy can write?' And I just cried. I couldn't believe it. I said, 'No, no, you're wrong. This is my kid. She's learned maybe six signs in her whole life. This can't be true.' So one day [the facilitator] came over to [my] house and she said, 'Stacy, I know you're excited. After all these years, you must have something you want to tell Mom.' And Stacy typed out 'I love you, Mom.' "" - p 8
Groan. On the one hand I'm glad that the parent(s) cd get some happiness, on the other hand it's so sad that it just turned out to be wishful thinking.
""It was devastating to watch," said Phil Worden, Betsy's legal guardian. "Because what you saw was that the words being typed out were the words the facilitator had seen. It was just so clear and unmistakeable. I was sitting there watching this and saying, 'My God, it's really true. This stuff is bogus.' "" - p 11
"Parker Beck was born in January 1993. He seemed normal until a few months after his second birthday. "Then he completely zoned out and removed [himself] from the rest of the world," said Victoria. "He wouldn't respond to his name anymore and he had no interest in playing." Parker had facial tics, banged his head against the wall, and only had two words in his vocabulary: "chuss," for juice, and "k-k-k," for cracker. Worse, he suffered from chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain." - p 13
Once again, there's the gastrointestinal problems. It seems believable & reasonable to me, as Wakefield stated, that gastrointestinal problems cd lead to poor digestion of needed nutrients & hence to developmental regression. What's not mentioned in the above is whether these problems started after vaccinations. According to a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website, these were the recommended vaccines at the time:
"1994 - 1995 | Recommended Vaccines
* Given in combination as DTP
** Given in combination as MMR" - https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-history/developments-by-year
According to a Nemours Children's Health website, children at ages 2 & 3:
"should have had these recommended vaccines:
· four doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
· three doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
· three or four doses of Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine
· one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
· three doses of hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine
· one dose of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
· two or three doses of rotavirus vaccine (RV)
· four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13)
· one or two doses of hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine"
Whether the 1994-1995 vaccinations listed above were for children this young I don't know. I'm assuming that that was the case. The point is that since Offit is pro-vaccination he neglects to mention whether or not Parker Beck had had vaccinations &, if so, what they were. If, e.g., Beck had had the MMR vaccine shortly prior to his 'zoning out' shortly after his 2nd birthday that wd add circumstantial evidence to the claim that vaccination might cause, in some children, gastrointestinal problems that might inhibit & cause regression of development.
Onward to other treatments that Offit considers bogus:
"One Dallas doctor paid $800 for four secretin infusions and charged $8,000 to administer them." - p 15
Ok, the guy's clearly a crook - but does that make him so different from his or her fellows?! Not as far as I can tell. I went to a hospital where an intern gave me an injection of a local anesthetic for abscess pain. He told me he'd never done it before. I asked him how long the effect wd last, he told me several days. It lasted for several hrs. I explained that I didn't have health insurance & that I had to be careful about how much things cost. He told me he wasn't worried about the money. Well he, personally, might not've cared about the money but the hospital management certainly did b/c they charged me something like $1,300 for this little service. That was an outrageous overcharge but completely normal in the Medical Industry world. I'm sure there're doctors who're satisfied w/o getting floor-length mink coats every wk but you wdn't know that from the usual bills.
"Between 1999 and 2002, investigators from three continents performed fifteen more studies of secretin. They injected autistic children with multiple doses of secretin, watched them for longer periods of time after receiving the drug, and included those with or without bowel problems. The results were the same. Not one study showed that secretin was effective in treating autism." - p 16
This time the endnote consulted was the relevant one: "Other secretin studies: P. Sturmey, "Secretin Is an Ineffective Treatment for Pervasive Developmental Disabilities: A Review of 15 Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trials," Research in Developmental Disabilities 26 (2005): 87-89" (p 252) Even tho I'm not likely to ever consult a non-online source, I admit that the citing of one helps convince me that I'm not being conned (even tho I cd be). The problem I have w/ the above is that I've come to think that injecting anything is a bad idea, one that increases the chances of negative effects that result simply from an assault on the body that bypasses its natural defense barriers.
The chapter ends w/ a lead-in to Wakefield-bashing:
"Although the false promises of facilitated communication and secretin squandered research funding and drained parents' resources, these therapies weren't harmful. Unfortunately, events soon to unfold in England would dramatically raise the stakes. Parents of autistic children were about to lose much more than time and money." - p 17
"On February 28, 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist working at London's Royal Free Hospital, held a press conference. He believed he had found the cause of autism." - p 18
That's not quite the way that Wakefield tells it. To quote again from my review of Wakefield's bk: "It was never claimed by Wakefield & co that the MMR vaccine directly caused autism. It was, instead, suggested that the connection between the MMR vaccine & the gastrointestinal problems in some children, not all, merited further investigation". It seems that such subtle distinctions are anathema to the oversimplification of Wakefield's enemies. Or, maybe Wakefield's misrepresenting himself as a defensive mechanism. Since I think that the way Wakefield tells it sounds reasonable I tend to believe it.
"In 1988, in a paper titled "Measles Virus DNA Is Not Detected in Inflammatory Bowel Disease," Wakefield admitted he had been wrong. Although his findings had unnecessarily scared the public about measles vaccine, Wakefield staked a higher ground. "Hypothesis testing and presentation of the outcome-either positive or negative-is a fundamental part of the scientific process," he said. "Accordingly, we have published studies that both do and do not support a role for measles in chronic intesinal inflammation: this is called integrity."" - p 19
For any mainstream medical person to talk about "unnecessarily" [scaring] "the public" is pure hypocrisy. The whole history of vaccination, certainly during the time of the recent quarantine justified by an utter terror campaign based around COVID-19, has been little but constant fear-mongering to justify profteering - & Wakefield hasn't been the 1st person to notice this, there's been resistance over & over again: from the time of Dr. Creighton's 1884 article on vaccination for the ninth edition of The Encyclopedia Brittanica to Eleanor McBean's "The Poisoned Needle". I quote from my review of that regarding another person who objected to vaccination long before Wakefield appeared on the scene:
""In 1887 Dr. Edgar M. Crookshank, who at that time was professor of pathology and bacteriology at King's College, was asked by the government to investigate an outbreak of cowpox in Wiltshire. Sir James Paget drew his attention to Creighton's work, evidently hoping that Crookshank would refute it, but the results of his laborious investigations are contained in two large volumes entitled "The History and Pathology of Vaccination", in which he says that the credit given to vaccination belongs to sanitation and isolation and that nothing would more redound to the credit of the medical profession than to give up their faith in vaccination." - p 216" - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4753078086
Wd Offit have the integrity to ever publicly announce that his well-pd 25+ yrs of rotavirus vaccine research has been a waste of time that led nowhere productive? Of course, that's a question predicated on the idea that perhaps it really has been a waste of time & resources wch I seriously doubt that Offit considers it to be.
At Wakefield's press conference about the possible connection between the MMR vaccine & intestinal inflammation, he's quoted as saying:
""Their children had developed normally for the first fifteen to eighteen months of life when they received the MMR vaccination. But after a variable period the children regressed, losing speech, language, social skills, and imaginative play, descending into autism."" - p 20
& on p 253 there's an endnote that presumably matches up w/ this:
"Wakefield and listening to parents: A. J. Wakefield, "The Case Against MMR: Wary Parents Have Proved the Experts Wrong Before. They Will Do So Again," The Independent (London), January 22, 2001."
Now, what's a little odd to me about that is that Wakefield's press conference was in February, 1998, but the newspaper quoted above is from 2001. Why not quote from the articles written at the time of the conference? Now here's what Wakefield has to say about this press conference as quoted in my review of "Callous Disregard":
""I approached the idea of a press briefing with some anxieties; by this stage, I had examined the issue of MMR vaccine in great detail. I had reviewed all of the published scientific literature about measles and MMR vaccine safety studies on the basis that, as part of investigating parental concerns and before calling into question MMR vaccine safety, it was essential to have done so. On a personal level, I was dismayed that I hadn't done this research before vaccinating my two older children. On a global level, it was clear that the safety studies had been wholly inadequate. "George" the whistleblower had major concerns about the attitude of many of his public health colleagues toward concerns over vaccine safety. The forced withdrawal of MMR vaccines that had been "spun" as being completely safe was testament to their failings." - p 83" - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4486376528
Now, at this point I probably seem like an apologist for Wakefield. I'm not. I can believe that he's greedy & that financial well-being might help grease the wheels of his research - but I can also believe that about most doctors, including Offit. What makes me more inclined toward Wakefield's position is that I just find it more believable & reasonable than I do Offit's. After all, the purpose of Offit's bk is to ridicule that he calls "Autism's False Prophets", it's not to defend his own rotavirus research wch he basically presents as objectively unassailable. His own research isn't under scrutiny. I imagine that he writes about it in scholarly medical journals & that if I were to read such things, assuming that as a layperson I cd get much understanding from them, I might find a basis to agree or disagree w/ them - but this isn't a debate, where opposing positions are presented for the judgment of the reader, it's a roast where Offit's science is taken for granted as correct & other people's science is presented as fraudulent. I'm not convinced.
"Wakefield also had a solution. If parents wanted to avoid autism, they should separate MMR into three vaccines. "There is sufficient concern in my own mind for a case to be made for vaccines to be given individually at not less than one-year intervals," he said." - p 21
Now, Offit's reaction to that is one that I don't necessarily think is true:
"Unfortunately, because the pharmaceutical companies that made MMR vaccine for British children didn't offer the vaccines separately, Wakefield was effectively recommending that children not be vaccinated." - p 22
If Wakefield's assertion that having a Measles, Mumps, & Rubella vaccine altogether is too much of an assault on a child's body is to be taken seriously than it must also be taken seriously by the companies that manufacture the MMR vaccine. In other words, the concern is not whether it's inconvenient for them to offer the vaccinations separately but whether it's the right thing to do. Wakefield's prompting the companies to do what he thinks is right, not for parents to not get children vaccinated. Personally, I part ways w/ him here: I distrust the basic principle of vaccination - but, then, that's just the opinion of one person who's not in a position to influence public policy (& who doesn't want to be).
"So great was the fascination with Wakefield that on December 15, 2003, a ninety-minute docudrama about his brilliance and courage, Hear the Silence, appeared on British television." - p 22
"In the movie, Wakefield is forced to withstand tremendous pressures: his files are stolen, his phone is tapped, and he hears heavy breathing on the line. Viewers learn later who is behind the intimidation: drug companies." - p 23
Is there a possibility that Offit & other detractors of Wakefield are envious? After all, it's compellingly romantic for Wakefield to be depicted as such a hero. Let's not forget that Offit begins his bk w/ depictions of himself receiving death threats - he, too, is being depicted (by himself) as a hero fighting the good fight for better health for children. It's just that in Offit's case the bad guys are religious nuts rather than the pharmaceutical companies. I'm anti-religious & find Fundamentalist Christinanity [pun intended] to be particularly disagreeable - but when it comes to issues of health, I think Big Pharma is the #1 villain, even the religious right can't compete.
"In the months following Wakefield's warning, the proportion of children receiving MMR vaccine dropped from nearly 90 percent to 70 percent and, in some areas of London, to 50 percent. As a consequence, small outbreaks of measles first appeared in upper-middle-class elementary schools in London. Other outbreaks followed, first in underimmunized areas of London then in Scotland and Ireland." - p 24
The above statement is totally that of a BELIEVER, there's no questioning involved, Offit presents himself as an authority not to be questioned. There're no statistics provided as to whether any people vaccinated got sick. The basic message is: Do what the Doctor Gods tell you to do or your children will get sick. Wakefield has been thrown down from Olympus. Now, I had German Measles when I was a kid. I remember having a temperature of 105°F, that's serious. That wd've been in the early 1960s. I read online that:
"In 1963, the measles vaccine was developed, and by the late 1960s, vaccines were also available to protect against mumps (1967) and rubella (1969). These three vaccines were combined into the MMR vaccine by Dr. Maurice Hilleman in 1971." - https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-history/developments-by-year#:~:text=In%201963%2C%20the%20measles%20vaccine,Maurice%20Hilleman%20in%201971.
1963 was probably the yr I got sick. As such, I don't know if I wd've been vaccinated or not. It's possible that the vaccine wd've been too new for me to've gotten it. At any rate, I survived w/o any aftereffects known to me. It was an experience that lasted a few days, I was pretty out-of-it, my mom was very worried.
"In 2006, a thriteen-year-old boy became the first person in England to die from measles in more than a decade." - p 24
That means that someone died of measles in England before Wakefield's controversial press briefing - so Offit can't blame that death on him. We also don't know whether the person who died was vaccinated or not. The idea that medical science is going to prevent all deaths strikes me as preposterously arrogant & ego-inflated anyway.
"Wakefield wasn't alone in his belief that MMR might cause autism. Following his press conference in 1998, several scientists and physicians stepped forward to support him.
"John O'Leary, a professor of pathology at Coombe Women's Hospital in Dublin, examined intestinal biopsies" - p 25
"Hisashi Kawashima, a virologist at Tokyo Medical University in Japan, found measles virus in white blood cells taken from autistic children but not from other children." - p 25
"Vijendra Singh, a biologist at Utah State University in Logan" - p 25
"Kenneth Aitken, a clinical psychologist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, Scotland" - p 25
"Walter Spitzer, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal" - p 25
"John March, a veterinarian at the Moredun Research Institute in Scotland, also came on board." - p 26
"Physicians from the United States also weighed in. Marcel Kinsbourne and John Menkes, pediatric neurologists from California" - p 26
"Arthur Krigsman, a gastroenterologist from the New York School of Medicine" - p 26
That's an impressive amt of people coming out in support of Wakefield's hypothesis. Wakefield, however, is the one chosen as the scapegoat to try to put everyone else in a defensive position.
"Next, he took his case to the United States, immediately finding a powerful ally: Dan Burton, a Republican congressman from Indiana." - p 26
"Dan Burton was a fixture in Congress, first elected in 1982 and reelected to his thirteenth term in 2006. Staunchly conservative and a born-again Christian" - p 26
"Burton also joined the debate about the AIDS epidemic. After the AIDS virus entered the United States in the late 1970s, Burton became obsessed with the disease. He refused to eat soup at restaurants, brought his own scissors to the barbershop, and tried to introduce legislation requiring AIDS testing for everyone in the country-legislation that, not surprisingly, failed." - pp 27-28
While the depiction of Burton certainly makes me feel leary of him it also seems to me that by associating Burton & Wakefield Offit is making an ad hominem connection that is implied to go deeper than it actually does - in other words, Wakefield is NOT Burton, it's NOT Wakefield who's refusing to eat soup in restaurants out of fear of AIDS, etc. If Wakefield & Burton had an alliance over a shared belief in a connection between vaccines & developmental regression then that alliance might be one of uneasy bedfellows motivated on both sides by beliefs arrived at by different routes.
"Scott Bono, from Durham, North Carolina, was also convinced that MMR had caused his son's autism. "On August 9, 1990, Jackson [began] his journey into silence," said Bono. "That was the day he received his MMR immunization. He would not sleep that night. In the days to follow he would develop unexplained rashes and horrible constipation and diarrhea. His normally very healthy body was ravaged by an invader. Over the next weeks he would slip away, unable to listen or speak. What was the reason for the change? It is my sincerest belief that it was that shot."" - p 30
I tend to take these parental testimonials seriously. There's a reason why so many people flock to supporting Wakefield's research & I think that reason is that their own experience bears him out. I don't think that all Wakefield's supporters are just trying to get rich off of lawsuits. Instead, I think it's much more likely to think that the pro-vaccine 'experts', such as Offit, are trying to hold onto their exalted positions by denying the validity of people who talk from direct experience unmediated by the 'expert' propaganda.
"Unfortunately, Wakefield presented his evidence as if he were speaking to scientists, not congressmen and parents. He showed pictures of intestines of autistic children viewed from the end of a fiber-optic scope, intestinal cells containing small fragments of measles vaccine virus, and plastic gels containing measles virus proteins. He talked about follicular dendritic cells, ileocolonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, crypt abscesses, and hepatic encephalopathy, concluding, "We have a biologically plausible hypothesis, that ungraded chemicals from the gut may be getting through and impacting the rapidly developing brain during the first few years of life [causing] autism." Then he surprised the committee. He presented findings not only from the eight autistic children in his Lancet paper, but also from 150 children in whom he claimed MMR had caused autism in "all but four."
"John O'Leary, the Irish pathologist who had identified measles virus in the intestines of Wakefield's autistic patients, was next. He too presented as if he were speaking to a group of molecular biologists. O'Leary talked about TaqMan real-time quantitative PCRs, RNA inhibition assays, low-copy viral gene detections, fusion proteins, neuraminidases, hemagglutinins, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, nucleocapsid genes, and black signals, concluding, "I am here to say that Wakefield's hypothesis is correct."" - pp 30-31
Note that in Offit's quoting of Wakefield he adds a bracketed insertion of the word "causing". That means that that isn't what Wakefield sd, but Offit is presenting it as if it's what one can reduce what he sd to. This seems to me to be in keeping w/ Offit's typical procedure of misrepresentation for scapegoating. Note that he also refers to "his Lancet paper" as if Wakefield were the only author, wch he wasn't. That also serves the purpose of scapegoating.
Note, also, that to Offit it's unfortunate that Wakefield & O'Leary presented their evidence in scientific language. As I understand it, their doing so resulted in the Congresspeople & parents not understanding what they were saying - but can't Offit at least give them credit for trying to accurately describe in the appropriate jargon what their findings were? After all, their testimony was presumably going into the Congressional Record, meaning that scientists cd consult it if need be. Their job wasn't necessarily to translate things into layperson's terms but to seriously describe the results of their research.
"On February 18, 2004-six years after Andrew Wakefield had published his paper in the Lancet-Brian Deer, an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, called Richard Horton, the Lancet's editor-in-chief. Deer said he had some shocking news about Andrew Wakefield." - p 37
Wakefield's "Callous Disregard" has a whole chapter dedicated to countering Deer's claims. Offit seems to accept Deer's position at face value. Once again, I excerpt from my review of Wakefield's bk. The 1st "italicized" portion is attributed to Deer:
""The dynamite in The Lancet was the claim that their conditions could be linked to the MMR vaccine, which had been given to all 12 children.
""False: The Lancet paper did not "claim that their conditions could be linked to the MMR vaccine." No such claim was ever made in the paper; on the contrary, it was explicitly stated in that paper that no association let alone a causal association had been proved between MMR and the syndrome described. It reported only that the parents said onset of symptoms started after MMR vaccination in 8 of the 12 cases." - p 186"
"Another person working against Wakefield was Professor Tom MacDonald, a scientist studying bowel disease.
""The GMC vetted MacDonald as a potential witness against me and his erstwhile colleagues. The attendance note of his meeting with GMC lawyers in 2005 reads:
""He [MacDonald] believes Wakefield is a charlatan, who has been pursuing his own agenda since 1995, this being to win the Nobel Prize. He believes Wakefield's alleged link between measles vaccine and Crohn's was entirely fabricated in order to obtain publicity for this reason." - p 210
""He may also have failed to disclose conflicting agendas, one scientific (as above) and one personal; as related to me by John Walker-Smith, when MacDonald declined the invitation to transfer to the Royal Free with Walker-Smith, he had reportedly vowed to his boss to destroy my career. Deer has been useful to him in that respect." - p 211
"It seems to me that something is missing from this depiction of Deer & MacDonald - viz: Why do they hate Wakefield so much? What this hatred reminds me of the most is moments from my own life when people have attacked me, ostensibly for one reason, not b/c of the ostensible reason but b/c they were jealous that I'd had sex w/ someone they wanted to have sex w/ but cdn't. Does that seem petty? Sure it is.. but it's all too human. Maybe Wakefield was popular & Deer & MacDonald weren't. It just seems to me that there's more going on here than the bk addresses."
The point is that Deer may or may not be what Offit presents him as: simply an investigative journalist. He may be someone w/ an ulterior motive. Offit finds fault w/ all of his purported "False Prophets" but he seems to accept the people he uses to support his case at face value. Why not question them all?
"Richard Barr had considerable experience suing pharmaceutical companies, first coming to public attention during his crusade against the anti-arthritis drug Opren. Opren had already been withdrawn from the United States, where it had been linked to more than seventy deaths and 1,000 cases of kidney and liver failure, The drug's manufacturer, Eli Lilly, eventually settled cases in Britain for $6 million. Unfortunately, because he had filed his claims after an agreed-upon deadline, Barr's clients received nothing. "My worst day as a lawyer," recalled Barr "was when the first judgments were handed down in the Opren cases.["]" - p 39
I find that this passage from Offit, whether intended this way or not by him, validates grievances against pharmaceutical companies.
"Although the British press saw Brian Deer's allegations as tainting the notion that MMR caused autism, scientific studies had already gone a long way toward refuting Wakefield's claims. In his original Lancet paper Wakefield admitted that he had not proven an association between MMR and autism. To determine whether MMR caused autism, researchers would have to perform a series of epidemiological studies, comparing hundreds of thousands of children who did or did not receive the vaccine." - p 42
What's wrong w/ this picture?! Offit keeps referring to Wakefield as claiming that "MMR caused autism" but in the same paragraph states that "Wakefield admitted that he had not proven an association between MMR and autism" as if Wakefield has been somehow forced into this 'admission' when, in fact, it was part of what he stated all along! Offit wants it both ways: he wants Wakefield to've sd that MMR causes autism but then wants to act as if Wakefield somehow admitted to being a fool for ever having stated that that was so - the problem is that Wakefield <i>never did make that claim</i> so he's being criticized over & over for a claim he never made.
"Fourth, Wakefield believed that the combination of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines has simply overwhelmed a young child's developing immune system. But the challenge of those three viruses is miniscule compared with that of vaccines that had been developed and administered in the past." - pp 44-45
I don't really see that claim as challenging much of anything. People got sick & died from vaccines in the past too. The question is: Do triple vaccines, triple induced disease, challenge the immune system more than just one vaccine? It seems obvious that that wd be the case. If you're shot w/ a gun, run over by a lawn mower, & hit by a car will it be worse for you than just being subjected to one of those assaults?
"Indeed, children confronted more immunologic challenges by receiving only smallpox vaccine 100 years ago than they do while receiving 14 different vaccines today (200 versus 153). If immunological overload were the cause of autism, with fewer immunilogic challenges in modern vaccines, rates of autism should be decreasing, not increasing." - p 45
It seems to me that Offit's avoiding the issue: he compares a single smallpox vaccination to a triple MMR vaccination. The point seems to be that 3 vaccines at once is too many, not that Offit's comparative method makes the earlier vaccine more "challeng"ing. The mere fact that he admits that the smallpox vaccine was a challenge at all is simply confirming what anti-vax people are already saying.
I've already stated that it's my observation that the Medical Industry & its personnel are greedy - but Offit makes it out as if only Wakefield & other 'False Prophets' are the greedy ones.
"On December 22, 2006, Deer received a report titled "Freedom of Information Act Request: MMR Multi Party Action."" - p 46
"Barr's Science and Medical Investigation Team gave $800,000 to Andrew Wakefield to support his research. When Wakefield had been confronted by journalists two years earlier, following Deer's claim that he had received $100,000, he argued that the sum was closer to $50,000. Now, with a document from the Legal Services Commission in front of him, Wakefield didn't deny that the amount was far greater." - p 47
Offit's bk was written in 2008, Wakefield's was written in 2011. The contested funding is given a labyrinthian history in Wakefield's bk in wch he never refers to a sum even reomotely close to $800,000. Here're some relevant excerpts from "Callous Disregard":
"During the first half of 1996, I was asked for help by Richard Barr of Dawburn's law firm and lead attorney on the UK MMR cases. Specifically, I was asked to review the safety of measles-containing vaccines (MCV) and, separately, to design a study that would help determine whether there was or was not a likely case in law against the manufacturers of MCV. Barr's initial interest was in Crohn's disease as a possible adverse outcome, but autism in children with intestinal symptoms rapidly took center stage. I prepared a research proposal for Barr's submission to the Legal Aid Board (LAB), a means-tested, government-funded legal assistance program to which Barr was contracted for the vaccine work." - p 49, "Callous Disregard"
"I attached the letter of award that the LAB had written to the law firm Dawburns and confirmed that the first [pounds] 25,000.00 should be paid into a designated research account as was standard practice for research grants." - p 50, "Callous Disregard"
In other words, according to Wakefield, the money wasn't exclusively for him at all. In order to avoid conflict of interest problems, Wakefield claims that he always clearly expressed his relationship w/ Barr & the LAB funding to people higher in the hospital hierarchy.
"Confused by his lack of clarity over this supposed conflict, I wrote again on March 24, 1997. I enclosed all the documents relevant to the grant, including the proposal, the letters from the LAB, and the relevant protocols - once again there was no secrecy in terms of frankly telling the dean what was proposed." - p 52, "Callous Disregard"
"By May 1997, I had grown tired of the whole fiasco over the LAB funding and decided to seek funding elsewhere. Exasperated, I asked the finance department to return the funds in full to the lawyers." - p 60, "Callous Disregard"
That didn't happen, according to Wakefiled, the decision to continue to accept the funding was made by people other than himself.
Now, maybe I'm simply misunderstanding this whole fiasco. Maybe the money that Offit & Deer refer to is something other than the LAB funds referred to above. Whatever the case may be, Wakefield certainly never acknowledges receiving $800,000, as Deer supposedly alleged, nor do I recall his even referring to it in "Callous Disregard". Given that Wakefield goes to great lengths to counter Deer's charges against him in his chapter 12 & I just glimpsed thru it again just now to look for allegations of an $800,000 payment, I find it strange to find no mention of it & no refutation of it. Is Offit lying? Was Deer lying? Did Wakefield omit it b/c he cdn't convincingly defend himself? I haven't the foggiest. It seems to me that Offit's lying is the least likely of the 3. & this is where we get to most damning evidence.
"Wakefield wasn't the only investigator to benefit from Barr's largesse. Barr's team had given John O'Leary more than $1 million to perform his studies." - p 48
"In the book, Aitken had postulated the cause of autism: "It now seems certain that the brains of persons who become autistic in their early childhood already had microscopic faults in their development in early intra-uterine life, probably first expressed among cells of the early embryo, in the first month." But after receiving money from Barr, Aitken appeared to change his opinion, now believing that autism might be caused by MMR." - p 48
"Arthur Krigsman, the gastroenterologist from the New York University School of Medicine, had declared during Burton's hearings that his findings were "independent" from Wakefield's; he had received $30,000.
"Marcel Kinsbourne and John Menkes, the California neurologists who had been first to support Wakefield's hypothesis in the American press, had received $800,000 and $90,000, respectively. Toward the end of their careers, both men had become expert witnesses for lawyers suing vaccine makers. (Marcel Kinsbourne would be heard from again)." - p 49
Looking at the endnotes, it appears that Deer is the only source for all those allegations above. SO, I decided to search for lawsuits against him to see if anyone other than Wakefield sued him. Apparently, none of the other people mentioned above did & Wakefield's multiple suits were thrown out of court w/ him having to pay costs. Then I looked at Deer's Wikipedia entry.
"In 1986, one of Deer's early investigations exposed research by British scientist Michael Briggs at Deakin University, Australia into the safety of the contraceptive pill. Deer's reports revealed that several of Briggs's studies were fabricated so as to give a positive profile for the products' cardiovascular safety. The research was largely financed by the German drug company Schering AG.
"In 1994, his investigation of the Wellcome Trust led to the withdrawal in the UK of the antibiotic, Septrin (also sold under the name Bactrim) and the sale by the Wellcome Trust of its drug company subsidiary.
"In 2005, the withdrawal of the painkiller Vioxx was followed by an investigation by Deer into the people responsible for the drug's introduction.
"In 2006, Deer's Dispatches documentary, "The drug trial that went wrong", investigated the experimental monoclonal antibody TGN1412. It was nominated for a Royal Television Society journalism award.
"In 2008, the media psychiatrist Raj Persaud was suspended from practising medicine and resigned his academic position after being found guilty of plagiarism following an investigation by Deer."
It seems from the above-quoted Wikipedia entry that Deer's investigative journalism vis à vis the Medical Industry goes more against sd industry than for it. Therefore, it's harder to make a case that Deer's persecution of Wakefield is Big Pharma funded. That, in itself, makes the best case against Wakefield that I've encountered yet. I still find Wakefield's science to be convincing but his apparent financial motives, at least as alleged by Deer, are more than a bit hard to ignore.
"John March, the veterinarian who had claimed that animal vaccines were tested more extensively than MMR, had received $180,000." - p 49
March is quoted as saying:
"["]The ironic thing is [Barr's team] was always going on about how, you know, how we've hardly got any money compared to the other side who are funded by large pharmaceutical companies. And I'm thinking, judging by the amounts of money you're paying out, the other side must be living like millionaires."" - p 50
Now the source for that telling revelation is attributed to "personal communication" in an endnote on p 258. Is it to be trusted? I find it all-too-easy to believe that Big Pharma really does have far more money to use for influencing outcomes than Barr's legal backers. I can't help but refer to Dr. Marcia Angell's wonderful bk, "The Truth About the Drug Companies - How They Deceive Us and What to do About It". Here're excerpts from my review of that:
""Prescription drug costs are indeed high-and rising fast. Americans now spend a staggering $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that figure is growing at about 12 percent per year (down from a high of 18 percent in 1999).1" - p xii"
""I witnessed firsthand the influence of the industry on medical research during my two decades at The New England Journal of Medicine. The staple of the journal is research about causes of and treatments for disease. Increasingly, this work is sponsored by drug companies. I saw companies begin to exercise a level of control over the way research is done that was unheard of when I first came to the journal, and the aim was clearly to load the dice to make sure their drugs looked good. As an example, companies would require researchers to compare a new drug with a placebo (sugar pill) instead of with an older drug. That way the new drug would look good even though it might actually be worse than the older one." - p xviii"
""By 1990, the industry had assumed its present contours as a business with unprecedented control over its own fortunes. For example, if it didn't like something about the FDA, the federal agency that's supposed to regulate the industry, it could change it through direct pressure or through its friends in Congress." - p 10"
You get the idea. I recommend Angell's bk far more than I'd recommend Offit's or Wakefield's.
"Following Andrew Wakefield's publication in the Lancet, rates of immunization with MMR declined and measles outbreaks swept across the United Kingdom and Ireland; hundreds of children were hospitalized and four children died from a disease that could easily have been prevented." - p 55
Ah, I was really starting to be swayed by the evidence in favor of Wakefield's greed & then the pendulum swings back to this kind of crap again. 1st, there's the reference to the Lancet article as Wakefield's alone, something completely false. 2nd, there's the implication that the publishing of this article in a scholarly medical journal in England wd, in itself, have an influence on the behaviors of the British masses in general. That's certainly not the case. Rates of immunization might've decreased b/c of more mass media attn pd to Wakefield's claims - but certainly not b/c of an article in a medical journal, something likely to influence doctors more than anyone else. As for 4 children dying from "a disease that could easily have been prevented"?! I find that an unlikely claim, one predicated on a total 100% belief wch I find completely unsubstantiated. All in all, to act like Wakefield is to blame for any of this just strikes me as ridiculous - he presented reasonable findings from his research, findings that're never accurately portrayed anywhere in Offit's bk, people responded to these reasonable findings w/ understandable doubts about a vaccine. Offit's portrayal of the situation is transparently one-sided: an anti-vax person cd say that while some children died from the measles, many more were saved from gastrointestinal distress that might've led to developmental regression. Maybe what both sides wd claim wd be accurate, maybe neither. Offit continues to mislead:
"Wakefield published his Lancet paper based on the findings of eight children with autism. He knew that the only way to prove his contention was to show that autism was more common in children who had received MMR. And he knew that he hadn't done that study. Correctly, Wakefield explained the limits of his study in the discussion section of his paper: "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and [autism]."" - p 55
3 reoccuring things are strange about Offit's presentation: 1. His hammering the idea in that the paper was Wakefield's alone, it wasn't; 2. His repeated statement that Wakefield made claims that he didn't followed by quotes from Wakefield that prove that Wakefield didn't make the alleged claims; 3. His insertion of key words in [brackets] that skew the meaning of the statements made by people quoted in a way that, apparently, is not what they actually sd! All 3 of those things are insupportable &, for me, at least, ruin Offit's argument.
Wakefield is depicted as having been presented by the mass media as a hero & the mass media is criticized for this "great theater".
""The media coverage told parents not only what to think, but also how to think about the MMR vaccine," wrote Tammy Boyce, author of Health, Risk and News: The MMR Vaccine and the Media. Boyce argued that the media's ritualistic mantra of balance-equally weighing one man's speculations with studies that clearly exonerated MMR-created a "charade of objectivity."" - p 56
Oh, well, anyone who's naive enuf to think that the mass media's normal functioning is much more than sensationalist fear-mongering that serves hidden interests is too naive to have much grip on what I, at least, consider to be 'reality'. I don't mean to say that Boyce is wrong, I mean to say What's new?! If the media were to promote vaccination use they'd be acting in the same irresponsible way, it hardly matters what side they take. As for the "studies that clearly exonerated MMR"? I'm still convinced that there're valid opinions on both sides of the vaccination-in-general fence & I seriously doubt that there's any science that I, personally, wd find to 'clearly exonerate MMR' or any other vaccine or even medicine in general - but, then, I'm NOT A BELIEVER. Setting broken bones, ok, injecting diseases &/or GMOs (or anything else).. nah.
"Learning little from his encounter with Andrew Wakefield, Richard Horton has published papers in the Lancet claiming that genetically modified foods damaged rat intestines, silicone breast implants induced harmful antibodies, and casualties sustained during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq totaled 655,000 (about ten times the actual number). Like Wakefield's paper, all of these assertions garnered enormous media attention for his journal, and all have been clearly refuted." - pp 58-59
There's that "clearly" again. We've read "clearly exonerated" & "clearly refuted". I have my doubts about both. It seems to me that it might be more accurate to say something like: 'If you're a believer in certain things presented as axioms such as: medical science does the best job it can & is philosophically sound OR the American military is doing its best to be a good policeman for the whole world then chances are you'll find studies exonerating the insertion of a foreign substance into breasts to make them bigger believable OR you'll find statistics minimizing the death toll in a country invaded on false grounds believable.' If not, well maybe you'll approach any tale told about them w/ a grain of salt. That sd, I don't mean to say that the Lancet is a reliable source. After all, there's also been the recent hydroxychloroquine mess:
"It's interesting to note that in The Lancet's entry sidebar there's nothing discrediting the journal - this despite their having published at least 3 papers that've been retracted, the most recent of wch was something far more clearly fraudulent than what Wakefield's been accused of:
""In May 2020, The Lancet published a metastudy by Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra of the Harvard Medical School and Dr. Sapan S. Desai of Surgisphere Corporation, which concluded that the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not improve the condition of COVID-19 patients, and may have harmed some of them.
""In response to concerns raised by members of the scientific community and the media about the veracity of the data and analyses,The Lancet decided to launch an independent third party investigation of Surgisphere and the metastudy. Specifically, The Lancet editors wanted to "evaluate the origination of the database elements, to confirm the completeness of the database, and to replicate the analyses presented in the paper." The independent peer reviewers in charge of the investigation notified The Lancet that Surgisphere wouldn't provide the requested data and documentation. The authors of the metastudy then asked The Lancet to retract the article, which was done on June 3rd 2020." "
"Now what's particularly noteworthy about this latter scandal is that it seems to've largely slipped past the notice of the general public. Hydroxychloroquine still seems to be 'discredited' even though it's a cheap drug that's been long-since readily available all over the world."
"Frank Pallone is a congressman who represents New Jersey's Sixth District. First elected in 1988, he has been a passionate supporter of Native Americans, working to protect the sovereignty of tribal governments. He's also an environmentalist. Because Pallone lives in a district that includes a string of towns on the Jersey shore, he's particularly worried about contamination of fish with mercury. In 1997, Pallone attached a simple amendment to an FDA reauthorization bill. Only 130 words long, the amendment would soon lead to chaos. Pallone gave the FDA two years to "compile a list of drugs and foods that contain intentionally introduced mercury compounds and [to] provide a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the mercury compounds in the list." The bill-the FDA Modernization Act of 1997-was signed into law on November 21, 1997. Few in the press or public took notice." - pp 60-61
"Kyushu's chemical factory continued to pour mercury into industrial wastewater until 1968. By 2001, mercury had poisoned 3,000 Japanese citizens and killed 600.
"FDA officials knew that mercury could damage the nervous system. When they first responded to Frank Pallone's directive, they also knew that mercury-based preservatives had been used in vaccines for decades. They were the ones who had put it there."
"And in Queensland, Australia, in 1928, twelve children injected with a contaminated diptheria vaccine died from bacterial abscesses and bloodstream infections."
- p 62
Ultimately, Offit makes the claim that the version of mercury used as a preservative in vaccines, thimerosal, is safe & not the same as the mercury that poisoned & killed people. This conclusion is to refute the actions of concerned citizens who wanted thimerosal removed from vaccines - claiming, in part, that thimerosal is a contributing agent to autism. Hence, in Offit's mind, they're more of "Autism's False Prophets".
In my review of Eleanor McBean's "The Poisoned Needle", I address the Queensland story:
""Vaccination wasn't always taken up readily and it wasn't always safe, either.
""In 1928, 12 children in the south-east Queensland town of Bundaberg died after receiving contaminated diptheria vaccines.
"""Among those who died, three came from one family, while two more families each lost two children," Dr Hobbins writes in a 2011 academic paper.
"""A Bundaberg correspondent opined that 'immunisation is as popular as a death adder'.
"""Within days the events in Bundaberg had compromised diphtheria control programmes around the globe, including the complete termination of immunisation in Cape Town (South Africa) and across New Zealand.""
"Obviously, neither of those articles verifies McBean's claim. That doesn't mean that I think that they refute them either. The 1st article is about lifting quarantine & not about repealing mandatory vaccination. Furthermore, their reasons for lifting it are that the authorities no longer considered smallpox to be a threat & that they considered the vaccinations a success. The 2nd article is about diphtheria vaccinations & not smallpox ones. That article states that vaccination "wasn't always safe" - the implication, as usual, is that science has gotten its shit together now & that it's safe - but what will be sd about vaccination now when it's reported about 100 yrs from now? I suspect that the supposed 'safety' of vaccines now will be soundly refuted - esp in the light of the thousands dead from COVID-19 vaccines."
Now, do I think that thimerosal (mercury) is safe as something to be ingested? Offit has this to say:
"Before they put thimerosal in vaccines, Lilly scientists first studied it."
"Although thimerosal didn't treat meningitis, doctors found that it was safe." - p 63
Let's not forget that Offit was quoted above as having written: "Opren had already been withdrawn from the United States, where it had been linked to more than seventy deaths and 1,000 cases of kidney and liver failure, The drug's manufacturer, Eli Lilly, eventually settled cases in Britain for $6 million." In other words, Offit is honest enuf to admit that pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, can make serious mistakes that damage people's health. In other other words, it's reasonable for people such as myself to take the safety conclusions of pharmaceutical companies w/ some suspicion.
"Mercury is a naturally-occurring chemical element found in rock in the earth's crust, including in deposits of coal."
"Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal, historically referred to as quicksilver, and is liquid at room temperature. It is used in older thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs and some electrical switches. When dropped, elemental mercury breaks into smaller droplets which can go through small cracks or become strongly attached to certain materials. At room temperature, exposed elemental mercury can evaporate to become an invisible, odorless toxic vapor. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas. Learn about how people are most often exposed to elemental mercury and about the adverse health effects that exposures to elemental mercury can produce."
In short, mercury is generally considered toxic but there're variations. Even tho Offit makes the case that thimerosal has been proven safe & has justified its use as a preservative in vaccines that might deteriorate & become poisonous on their own otherwise, I have to wonder why take the risk?
"So Halsey decided to evoke the precautionary principle, exercising caution in the absence of evidence. Unlike Andrew Wakefield, who had made precipitous recommendations against the MMR vaccine, Halsey would not recommend the removal of a component of vaccines necessary to protect children from potentially fatal infectious diseases. He would merely propose that vaccine makers switch to single-dose vials free of preservatives." - p 66
Oh, c'mon! Really?! Wakefield proposed switching to single doses, something the pharmaceutical companies weren't set up to produce but cd hypothetically change to, & Halsey proposes switching to vaccines that don't require preservatives - also something that the pharmaceutical companies weren't producing but cd switch to. But Offit has to Wakefield-bash & praise Halsey.
"Few vaccine experts are more respected, more knowledgeable, or more dedicated than Neal Halsey. If he was concerned about something, people listened. "There was no question that it was Neal's concerns that drove a lot of this early on," recalled John Modlin, head of the vaccine advisory committee to the CDC. "He expressed a higher level of anxiety than the rest of us did. He wasn't convinced that there wasn't harm [caused by thimerosal]. And he was the driving force behind the AAP's decision." Halsey's initial proposal surprised his colleagues: he wanted to stop giving any vaccine that contained thimerosal." - p 67
Nonetheless, he finds Halsey's concern unjustified & into the "Autism's False Prophets" go the people who wanted thimerosal removed from vaccines.
"Kessler's removal of silicone breast implants from the market precipitated a flood of litigation. In one year, the number of lawsuits against Dow Corning increased from 200 to 30,000. Many of the lawsuits came from patient advocacy groups set up by lawyers to recruit clients. By 1994, breast implant manufacturers had been brought to their knees, forced to settle a class-action lawsuit for more than $4 billion, at the time the largest medical product settlement in American history. One billion dollars went to the lawyers. In May 1995, Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy." - p 75
Ok, it's more than a little hard for me to feel sorry for Dow Corning. Breast implants, to me, are a prime example of one of the stupidest things made possible by the medical industry. I've had 2 women friends who got breast implants to make their breasts larger. They were both strippers. Obviously, the idea was that they'd get bigger tips w/ bigger tits. Personally, I like breasts, I'm heterosexual so the attraction to breasts is all part of the lust package - & I've been lovers w/ women w/ small breasts & women w/ large breasts. Ultimately, I'm not going to pick who I'm lovers w/ on the basis of the size of their breasts, there're other more important factors such as how intelligent & imaginative they are. Of course there're physical factors too, there're physical characteristics that I'm attracted to & some that I'm repulsed by - but I wd never want a woman that I'm lovers w/ to get silicone breast implants, I'd prefer them to be who they naturally are. The obsession w/ having large breasts is, at least partially, a culturally induced thing that I think we'd be better off w/o - & making a big business out of exploiting women's insecurities over breast size is just despicable.
"Gabriel's conclusion was simple: "We found no association between breast implants and the connective tissue diseases and other disorders that were studied."
"Gabriel's study was the first of many. In 1995, Jorge Sánchez-Guerrero, a researcher in the department of rheumatology and immunology at Harvard Medical School, examined the records of 90,000 women and published their findings, also in the New England Journal of Medicine. Again, women with breast implants were not more likely to have connective tissue diseases. Six more studies followed. Researchers at Wayne State University, the University of Calgary, the University of Kansas School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health all agreed with Gabriel and Sánchez-Guerrero: breast implants didn't cause connective tissue diseases." - p 76
WTF?! Didn't these places have anything better to do?! It's obvious that some serious money was put into all these studies. Why put so much money in if it weren't to protect the breast implant companies? Maybe Brian Deer shd investigate where their funding came from! Truthfully, just from the perspective of 'common sense', I find it hard to believe that inserting silicone (or anything else) into breasts wdn't have harmful side-effects. Once again, Offit loses his believability w/ me when he defends such things.
"Later, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed hundreds of epidemiological and biological studies and concluded that breast implants didn't cause connective tissue diseases. But plaintiffs' lawyers and breast implant recipients claimed that IOM was part of a conspiracy to mislead the American public-a conspiracy financed by breast implant manufacturers." - p 78
Of, those wacky conspiracy theorists, believing that big business will do unpleasant things to make more money! I wonder, was it ever transparent as to where the funding came from? Now Marcia Angell, the aforementioned author of The Truth About the Drug Companies is someone who I have the highest respect for & she, apparently, was one of the people who reinforced the breast implant manufacturers's claims to safety. If she says it, I'm inclined to believe her. She strikes me as a person of very high integrity. Then again, even she cd be wrong - or looking at the issue from a myopic perspective.
"Marcia Angell, executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and author of Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, also came under attack. "I was subpoenaed twice," said Angell. "They wanted a large number of documents that don't even exist, alleging contact between me and the manufacturers. They thought the manufacturers paid me."" - p 78
Offit's bad logic continues to march onward:
"When public health agencies delayed the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine, children suffered. Ten percent of hospitals, frightened by the notion of giving a thimerosal-containing vaccine to newborns, ignored recommendations and simply suspended the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns. One three-month-old child born to a mother infected with hepatitis B virus in Michigan died of overwhelming infection, having failed to receive the vaccine in the nursery." - p 79
This statement is based on an unproveable hypothesis. Since the child wasn't vaccinated we don't know what wd've happened if the child had been vaccinated - it's as simple as that. To say that the child wd've lived is predicated in an unquestioned total faith in vaccines - something that, as far as I know, has no basis in reality whatsoever. People who're vaccinated sometimes get sick & die - sometimes from what they're vaccinated against, sometimes from things that the vaccination helped enable. When doctors, such as Offit, talk about an imaginary event as if they have absolutely certain predictive powers then it's time to recognize that they're Medical Industry Priests claiming prophetic power & to dismiss them as, yes, "False Prophets".
"If Mercury caused autism, they reasoned, perhaps removing it from autistic children could help. "With one in one hundred and fifty children now diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder," they wrote, "development of mercury-related treatments, such as chelation, could prove beneficial for this large and seemingly growing population." Chelation therapy for austistic children-the administration of chemicals designed to bind to mercury and to eliminate it from the body-was born. (The word chelation is derived from the Latin chelos, claw.)" - pp 82-83
Of course, that's predicated on the "if": "If Mercury caused autism". IF that's the case then chelation might be the ticket. What IF autism is a product of an overall human-created environment? What IF there're many, MANY elements involved, all parts of a whole that's more & more dominant w/ every passing yr? What IF humans are our own ecological disaster & autism is a symptom? AND cancer? AND immune disorders? What if it's not as simple as just one thing causing another? I'm not saying this is the case, I'm just imagining a possibility. What IF the more technical control humans exert, the more new injuries squeeze thru the cracks? & what if the whole philosophical basis of the Medical Industry's technical control is one of the prime factors in this process? My instinct tells me this might very well the case, that the Medical Industry might be doing more harm than good, that autism (& so many other things) are a byproduct not only of vaccines but of every other technical invasion of the natural mind & body. Of course, that's 'just' my instinct - so why shd anyone trust it just b/c I do? No good reasons whatsoever.. so what does your instinct tell YOU?
"In the spring of 2003, less than one year after they had published their VAERS study, the Geiers published another in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Again, using the VAERS database, the Geiers found the more mercury children received in vaccines, the more likely they were to develop autism and speech disorders; worse, they were also more likely to have heart attacks and epilepsy." - p 85
Now, you can see where this is going: the Geiers are going to be exposed as poor sources, etc. What I wonder is: what wd exposing every medical researcher to such scrutiny reveal about the weaknesses of their procedures? Is it possible that there're systemic weaknesses in the whole basic framework? Just sayin'.
"In 2002, Handley's wife, Lisa, gave birth to a son, Jamie. For his first eighteen months Jamie was happy, playful, and engaging. Then he began a frightening descent into autism. He stopped making eye contact, stopped responding to his name, and spent days spinning around in circles." - p 86
At this point, in every one of these cases, I want to know: 1. was the child vaccinated?, 2. what vaccinations did the child receive?, 3. when were these vaccinations received? Offit doesn't give that info b/c he wants the reader to think such things are irrelevant. To those of us who think that vaccinations, esp vaccinations of developing children, are unnecessary & dangerous assaults on the body, every report that provides such information can be considered a statistic. If Jamie had just been vaccinated in the preceeding 2 wks maybe the vaccination had something to do w/ his regression. If such occurences repeat often enuf it's more than a little ridiculous to write them off as coincidence.
""If you look at [autistic] children," he said, "they have high testosterone, they masturbate at age six, they have mustaches, they're aggressive, and you can treat them by lowering their testosterone and removing the mercury."" - pp 88-89
I was immediately suspicious of this one. To me, if you're male & you have high levels of testosterone then that's only a 'problem' insofar as one's urges will be strong. Sure, that's a problem - but it's a problem that the individual shd learn to control, not something to be removed from them. I'm reminded of a friend w/ breast cancer. She was told her cancer was caused by high levels of estrogen & that a hysterectomy wd improve her situation. That sounded like a really bad idea to me. Nonetheless, that seems to be accepted theory these days. Being the hedonist that I am, just having more sex seems like a better cure. I wonder how many doctors recommend that?
"Verstraeten mined the VSD database in an effort to determine whether mercury in vaccines had caused harm. After his first pass through the data, he concluded that it had." - p 91
But you know by now, doncha?, that the reader's being set up for a fall here. Verstraeten is wrong & Doc Offit's going to tell you why.
"Paul Stehr-Green, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Public Health, was the first to see a flaw in Verstraeten's study. Stehr-Green reasoned that children who weren't getting vaccinated (and were therefore exposed to less mercury) might also be less likely to visit their doctor. "I think [this] impacts on [Verstraeten's] conclusions tremendously," he said. Stehr-Green was concerned that children who got more vaccines were more likely to be diagnosed with neurological problems not because they were actually at greater risk, but because they were more likely to come to the doctor." - p 92
Offit & Stehr-Green apparently reason that going to the doctor results in a greater quality of diagnosis, a greater likelihood of problems being detected. Another possibility, however, occurs to me - one that I think is equally conforming to Occam's Razor: the doctors & what they do to their patients are actually the source of the problems. Hence, the more the children go to the doctor, the more likely they are to get sick.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. gets thrown into the mix. Kennedy is an environmental lawyer who's gotten involved w/ questioning the safety of some vaccines. he wrote an article for Rolling Stone called "Deadly Immunity". I generally like what Kennedy has to say.
"Kennedy's article contained other inaccuracies. Kennedy wrote: (1) "[The CDC] withheld Verstraeten's findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been 'lost' and could not be replicated." Verstraeten published his study only after the problems with the preliminary data had been addressed." - p 94
"(8) "Four of the eight CDC advisors who approved guidelines for a rotavirus vaccine laced with thimerosal had financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies developing different versions of the vaccine." No rotavirus vaccine has ever contained thimerosal." - p 95
"Flooded with letters and e-mails correcting Kennedy's many mistakes, Rolling Stone issued a series of retractions on June 17, 22, and 24" - p 96
Ok, those critcisms of Kennedy seem potentially valid. Let's take the quote from p 95: Let's say that "Four of the eight CDC advisors" [..] "had financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies developing different versions of the vaccine." Is that reasonable? Given that I accept Offit's expertise on rotavirus vaccines I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that no "rotavirus vaccine has ever contained thimerosal." It's a matter of not throwing out the baby w/ the bathwater again.
"On August 26, 2004, Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, trumped his fellow politicians by banning mercury-containing influenza vaccines from the state. (In 2004, only multidose influenza vaccines contained thimerosal as a preservative.) By April 2006, six states had followed his lead; in 2007, another seventeen states were considering similar bans. Because only limited supplies of thimerosal-free influenza vaccines are available, public health officials worried that banning thimerosal was equivalent to banning influenza vaccines for some children, putting them at risk of severe and occasionally fatal disease." - p 102
Oh, Lawdy! How much of this claptrap do we have to be exposed to? Have you ever had the flu?! It's no big deal. Really. I'm sure I've had the flu many times, it's been a minor inconvenience, something that's resulted in me spending more time in bed resting & drinking more water. A runny nose, a fever. Get over it people, all these things that the Medical Industry act as if they're guillotines just waiting to cut your head off are more like pieces of paper that you might get a cut from. The danger is ridiculously exaggerated & that's how the Medical Industry & the mass media keep you in a state of constant fear. How many people actually die from the flu? Now how many of them really died b/c they were in bad shape for some other reason? All of them? It seems likely to me. If there really is a chance of developmental disorder as a side-effect from thimerosal then I'd rather take my chances w/ the flu. SHEESH.
"By the late 1990s, when health officials had completely eliminated thimerosal, the number of children with autism was higher than it had ever been, exactly the opposite of what would have been expected if thimerosal caused autism. Stehr-Green concluded, "The body of existing data is not consistent with the hypothesis that increased exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines is responsible for the apparent increase in the rates of autism." - pp 106-107
What I learn from all this back-&-forth between different studies that disprove each other is what I already knew: viz: that science is NOT monolithic, there is NO ultimate objective position. Instead, there're different ways of arriving at different conclusions, many of them in competition w/ each other & w/ differing philosophies underpinning them.
"One year later, in September 2004, Jon Heron, an epidemiologist from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, published a study in Pediatrics. Heron examined the records of 14,000 children who had received different amounts of thimerosal in vaccines between 1991 and 1992. He wanted to see if he could find a relationship between the amount of thimerosal babies had received and the risk of neurological problems. He did. The more thimerosal children received, the less likely they were to be hyperactive or to have difficulties with hearing, movement, or speech." - p 107
This brings up another pet peeve for me: the whole notion of hyperactive: Just b/c adults can't deal w/ the level of energy that children have doesn't mean that there's anything wrong w/ it. Have respect for energy - just b/c you don't have it, just b/c you're a BORE doesn't mean that you have the right to reduce everyone to your level of dullness.
"Like Heron, Nick Andrews found the more thimerosal children received, the less likely they were to devlop neurological problems like attention deficit disorder. Again, the amount of mercury in vaccines didn't presage the development of autism. Andrews concluded, "There was no evidence that thimerosal exposure via vaccines caused neurodevelopmental disorders."" - p 108
What if so-called 'hyperactivity' & ADD weren't defined as neurological disorders? That turns everything on its head. What if they were defined as something more like abundance of life energy? Well, then the thimerosal wd be seen as causing the neurodevelopmental disorder of life energy suppression, something easily attributable to a poison.
"Fombonne had found that the number of children diagnosed with autism in Canada had increased throughout the mid- to late 1990s. This increase occurred at the same time that thimerosal had been removed from vaccines. Obviously, removing thimerosal hadn't caused the increase. But what had? Fombonne had an explanation: "Factors accounting for the increase include a broadening of diagnostic concepts and criteria, increased awareness and, therefore, better identification of children with [autism] and improved access to services." In other words, Fombonne reasoned that there wasn't an epidemic of autism; rather, broadening the definition of the disability to include mildly affected children, as well as heightened awareness among parents and doctors, had accounted for the increase." - p 109
Let's face it, the closer we look at it, the sicker everyone obviously is. Everyone MUST have their own doctor, everyone MUST be on medications that fuck them up even more & then require a new medication to counterbalance how fucked up they are - like a see-saw - aren't see-saws fun? The gist of it is: you MUST believe in the Medical Industry & you MUST let it tell you what to do - & if there seems to be some in-fighting, don't let it bother you, the person who dumbs you down the most will be the winner - so let that be a life lesson to you. But, hey!, don't think I'm only being sarcastic here. Offit does have his redeeming moments & the following one is one of them:
"Although vaccines have probably saved more lives than any other medical intervention, they have come with a price-occasionally causing severe, even fatal, side effects. Epidemiological studies have been the single most powerful tool to show that vaccines, like all medicines, are imperfect.
"In 1998, the FDA licensed a rotavirus vaccine, and the CDC recommended it for all infants. The vaccine, designed to prevent a common cause of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, had been tested in 10,000 babies before licensure. But after it had been given to 1 million babies, the vaccine was found to be a rare cause of intestinal blockage called intussusception." - p 110
Thank you, Dr. Paul A. Offit, for admitting this. But as for vaccines "probably" having saved more lives than any other medical intervention? I have my doubts. At any rate, I'm more enthusiastic about the way cigarette smoking finally got a bad name. But what I want to know is: What were those 10,000 parents thinking who let their kids be guinea pigs?! Really, people, really. Anyway, notice how we come back to, yet again, a vaccine causing gastrointestinal problems. Isn't that what Wakefield sd? Yes, "vaccines, like all medicines, are imperfect." Not to mention doctors.
"In 1976, public health officials in the United States, fearing an unusual outbreak of influenza pandemic, immunized millions of Americans with what was called the swine flu vaccine. Unfortunately, some people immunized with the vaccine developed a rare form of paralysis called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Epidemiological studies showed that the vaccine was the cause. One of every 100,000 people who got swine flu vaccine-400 people among 40 million-had been afflicted." - p 111
It's exactly that sort of thing that makes people like myself not want to get vaccinated. Pro-vax people tend to downplay collateral damage. Downplaying paralysis to a person who got vaccinated b/c they were trying to avoid getting sick based on the advice of an (imperfect) expert is sick in & of itself. Nature isn't likely to inject you w/ something that'll make you paralyzed unless it's from a poison from a creature attacking you. I seriously doubt that 400 people were paralyzed by an attacking creature during the time that this vaccination campaign took place. The Medical Industry makes prophecy, b/c that's all these pandemic predictions are, & then puts people at risk w/ something that's pretty iffy in the 1st place: vaccines, imperfect vaccines. I'd rather take my chances w/ nature.
"The vaccine, pioneered by Jonas Salk, was made by inactivating polio virus with formaldehyde. After it was licensed, five companies stepped forward to make it. One company, Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, California, made it badly. Because Cutter hadn't completely inactivated its vaccine, more than 100,000 children were inadvertently injected with live, dangerous polio virus. Seventy thousand got mild polio, 200 were permanently paralyzed, and ten were killed. It was one of the worst biological disasters in American history." - pp 112-113
To Offit's credit, he brings up these stories; to his discredit, he always takes the mainstream position that while such a disaster is unfortunate there's an excuse for it but what wd've happened if the vaccinations hadn't taken place might've been worse. To my mind, this wdn't've happened w/o vaccination - it's as simple as that - therefore, the vaccination, regardless of what the excuse for the disaster is, was something that shd've never been inflicted on people in the 1st place. Polio vaccine critics have stated that the Cutter lab was used as a scapegoat b/c they were independent from bigger pharma conglomerates.
"Further epidemiological studies consistently showed that although lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking was rare, affecting less than 1 percent of those who smoked, it was real. The results of these epidemiological studies no longer allowed an industry that wished to believe smoking didn't cause cancer to hide behind laboratory studies that had proved worthless." - p 114
Again, there're conflicted findings: cigarette manufacturers supported research that sd cigarette smoking was ok; then anti-smokers produced research that smoking causes cancer. This type of conflict is typical in the science world - esp when big money's at stake. During the so-called COVID-19 pandemic research in France claimed that cigarette smokers were less likely to get COVID. I've seen 'news' of research in France claiming that red wine intake, in moderation, is healthy for you. I vaguely recall the same thing about research exonerating coffee. &, yet, I doubt that mnay people other than cigarette addicts, alcoholics, & coffee addicts wd take such research seriously. Nonetheless, this is science at work. From my POV, pro-vax people are like embattled cigarette manufacturers fighting to continue promoting a big business. SO, 400 people out of 40 million people getting paralyzed from a vaccination is as real as 1% of people getting cancer from smoking - & an equally valid reason for stopping vaccinations.
"Because everyone drinks water, everyone has small amounts of methylmercury in their blood, urine, and hair. A typical breast-fed child will ingest almost 400 micrograms of methylmercury during the first six months of life. That's more than twice the amount of mercury than was ever contained in all vaccines combined. And because the type of mercury in breast milk (methylmercury) is excreted much more slowly than that contained in vaccines (ethylmercury), breast milk mercury is much more likely to accumulate. This doesn't mean that breast milk is dangerous, or that water is dangerous. Not at all. It means only that anyone who lives on the planet will consume small amounts of mercury all the time." pp 114-115
But this isn't about breast milk mercury, is it? It's about mercury contained in something that's injected directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the body's filtration.
An assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado named Sarah Parker started getting what she considered threatening emails & phone-calls b/c she's pro-vax.
"Parker called the police to obtain a restraining order on one particular caller. "My impression after talking to the police [was that the callers] seemed to be very well trained in not using words that would get them in trouble with the law. So, they wouldn't make a direct threat, saying, 'I'm going to hurt you' or 'I'm going to hurt your children.' They wouldn't tell me what the 'or else' was. [But] I was worried that they were going to do something to my family. I quit answering my phone for about a year." The threats worked. Sarah never published another paper on vaccine safety." - p 117
As I've stated earlier in this review, I'm against harrassing or threatening anyone b/c of their opinions. I'm also against any mandatory medical intervention. What people who advocate vaccination have to understand is that as long as they're saying: 'This is what I think is right' then, IMO, it's good to have their input - but when things morph to: 'This is what you have to do regardless of whether you agree with me or not' then that's when things turn particularly ugly. Parents who think vaccines might paralyze or kill or developmentally disable their child are understandably not going to take well to being told that their children have to be vaccinated in order to go to school or whatever. They're going to take the people that they consider to be responsible for this to be serious enemies, murderers, sadists. I use this review as a way to show 1. that I'm informing myself about a variety of opinions, 2. to express my own opinions formed under these conditions. Even tho I disagree w/ much of what Offit says I wd never harass him over it. This review is my way of addressing the subjects. I'd expect the same courtesy from him & others like him. Perhaps that's what I consider to be 'civilized' behavior & I'm in favor of it. Mandatory medical interventions are NOT 'civilized', they're fascist. Threats, veiled or otherwise, are also fascist.
As for Parker not answering the phone for a yr? Before the Do Not Call list was created, I was getting 7 scammer phone calls for every call I got from a friend or work. I got on the list & that stopped it for awhile & it's never reached 7 a day again but now it can be 1 or 2 scammer calls a day & at least 1 txt msg scammer a day, etc. The effect is the same: I stopped answering my phone. Then I got caller ID, that helped. I only answer the phone if the caller's in my contacts list. The point is that while the malevolence of the veiled threats to Parker are nasty so are the constant invasions by the capitalists & their motive is, in a sense, even more ruthless & unmotivated by anything but a greedy drive to parasitize off of others no matter what. As an older person, I now get to experience that special breed of scammer scum that tries to find old people who're defenseless to rob, hoping for weak-mindedness or senility.
"The CDC also received a series of threatening e-mails. One stated, "Forgiveness is between you and God. It is my job to arrange a meeting.""
"The CDC contacted the FBI, instructed its staff on safety issues, hired more security guards, and showed employees how to respond if pies were thrown in their faces." - p 119
But what actually happened? Were any pies thrown in anyone's faces? There's plenty of mayhem in the US, that's for sure, but there's far more fear-mongering of things that don't actually happen - & that originates with the people that Offit seems to consider to be the 'good guys' as much, if not more so, than w/ the 'bad guys'. I'm more concerned w/ the mass murderers who have private arsenals & who commit their shootings at vulnerable places like schools & churches & shopping malls than I am w/ threats to the CDC.
"Stephen B. Edelson, director of the Edelson Center for Environmental and Preventative Medicine, claimed he could treat autistic children with high-intensity sound waves, calling his miraculous new therapy sonar depuration. (Sonar depuration therapy has never been formally tested.) Edelson said sonar depuration helped damaged brain cells to regenerate: "A classic example is you can take a six-year-old, remove half their brain, and within two years the child will be perfectly normal." (Children who lose half their brains don't grow them back.)" - p 120
Whew! Ok, it's not hard to be on the same page as Offit w/ this one. I didn't find "sonar depuration" online but I did find "depuration":
"Depuration of seafood is the process by which marine or freshwater animals are placed into a clean water environment for a period of time to allow purging of biological contaminants (such as Escherichia coli) and physical impurities (such as sand and silt). The most common subjects of depuration are bivalves such as oysters, clams, and mussels." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depuration
As for "take a six-year-old, remove half their brain": Don't try this at home!. &, yeah, I find the claim that half a brain cd grow back in 2 yrs to be as preposterous as it gets. One can only hope that no-one was brain-dead enuf to fall for it. The endnote that I take to be providing the source for the quote is this:
"Stephen Edelson: Cited in U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform, The Future Challenges of Autism: A Survey of the Ongoing Initiative of the Federal Government to Address the Epidemic, 108th Congress, First session, November 20, 2003 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004), 137." - p 269
That sd, tho, strangely enuf there has been some research about brain regeneration, something that is generally considered impossible:
"Deconstructing birdsong may seem an unlikely way to shake up biology. But Nottebohm's research has shattered the belief that a brain gets its quota of nerve cells shortly after birth and stands by helplessly as one by one they die-a "fact" drummed into every schoolkid's skull. On the contrary, the often-rumpled Argentina-born biologist demonstrated two decades ago that the brain of a male songbird grows fresh nerve cells in the fall to replace those that die off in summer.
"The findings were shocking, and scientists voiced skepticism that the adult human brain had the same knack for regeneration. "Read my lips: no new neurons," quipped Pasko Rakic, a Yale University neuroscientist doubtful that a person, like a bird, could grow new neurons just to learn a song.
"Yet, inspired by Nottebohm's work, researchers went on to find that other adult animals-including human beings-are indeed capable of producing new brain cells. And in February, scientists reported for the first time that brand-new nerves in adult mouse brains appeared to conduct impulses-a finding that addressed lingering concerns that newly formed adult neurons might not function. Though such evidence is preliminary, scientists believe that this growing body of research will yield insights into how people learn and remember. Also, studying neurogenesis, or nerve growth, may lead them to better understand, and perhaps treat, devastating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, caused by wasted nerves in the brain."
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this supports the claim of sonar depuration - it does, however, point to an interesting future. I, personally, wdn't mind have some new brain cells of the right kind (no cancerous cells need apply).
"But by far the most extensive network of physicians offering alternative therapies for autism belongs to Defeat Autism Now (DAN), a group based in San Diego, and part of the Autism Research Institute. Like Andrew Wakefield, DAN practioners believe autism is caused by toxic substances that enter the body through a leaky gut. (Studies have failed to prove that autistic children have leaky guts, and brain-damaging toxins have never been identified.)" - p 121
Since I find Elizabeth Fein's bk "Living on the Spectrum" to be reasonable I looked in its index for "Defeat Autism Now!" to see what, if anything, she wrote about them & found only this:
"Defeat Autism Now! changed its name to the Autism Research Institute, in response to requests from autistic people for whom the name felt like a "personal affront" (Edelson, n.d.)." - pp 146-147, "Living on the Spectrum"
"In June, 2007, Participant Productions, facing overwhelming evidence that vaccines didn't cause autism, stopped production on the movie version of Evidence of Harm." - p 127
That's interesting, the movie that wasn't. For me, tho, the issue has never been 'do vaccines cause autism' but can vaccines cause harm? Such as paralysis? Encephalitis? A general deterioration of health that can lead to developmental regression in the very young? Death? YES is the answer to all those questions IMO.
"Seidel was raised in Anaheim, California. Her father was a chemical engineer, her mother a music and special education teacher who worked with severely impaired children. In 1973, after graduating from high school, Seidel attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, majoring in English and Russian literature and Book Arts and later venturing to New York City, where she earned a master's degree in Library Science from Columbia University." - p 130
"Kathleen Seidel has almost single-handedly exposed the unsavory allegiances of those who proffer cures for autism." - p 228
Offit has no problem w/ the lack of academic-scientific credentials of Seidel b/c she's against the same people he is. On the other hand, he's more particular about the lack of academic-scientific credentials of some of the 'expert witnesses' used by the "False Prophets".
"Seidel decided to start a Web site and blog, calling it neurodiversity.com, the domain name coming from a family brainstorming session in 2001." - p 131
Again, I quote from Fein's bk:
"At the same time, a growing movement of individuals on the autism spectrum, often referred to as (part of) the neurodiversity movement, argue that autism is instead a natural and valuable aspect of human diversity, a cultural identity calling for accommodation rather than prevention. A cure for autism would thus be not a mercy but a genocidal suppression of difference, equivalent to "curing" someone's race, gender, or sexual orientation." - p 2, "Living on the Spectrum"
"First, the Geiers referred to VAERS as a mandatory reporting system for problems following vaccines. But VAERS is a passive system; people who believe that a vaccine might have caused a problem are encouraged, not mandated, to fill out a form. Because reporting is at best haphazard, most researchers (other than the Geiers) don't use VAERS ro prove a vaccine has caused harm." - p 137
Ok, I'm not a researcher in the sense that Offit's using the word. I LIKE VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Report System). Here's the link to the government VAERS website: https://vaers.hhs.gov . 'Experts', like Offit, are contemptuous of it b/c it allows & encourages 'non-experts' to report things from their own direct experience instead of having the experts 'interpret' it for them. Someone might get a COVID-19 vaccine & then shortly thereafter develop Myasthenia Gravis. SO they go to a doctor & the doctor acts like associating the 2 things is ridiculous. The doctor doesn't want to acknowledge that a 'perfectly safe' vaccine that he's been promoting to, & giving to, his patients might have a possible side-effect of such a serious condition. The doctor is in denial, the doctor can't be trusted. The patient, however, can be trusted b/c they're the unfortunate person undergoing the experience. I LIKE VAERS.
"TAP Pharmaceuticals-which stands for Takeda Abbott Phrmaceuticals, a joint venture between Takeda Chemical Company in Osaka, Japan, and Abbot Laboratories in Abbott Park, Illinois-wasn't a stranger to controversy. Several years before, to compete with the rival drug Zoladex, a product of Astra Zeneca, TAP had given free samples of Lupron-a drug that cost about $20,000 per treatment course-and offered grants of $25,000 to any physician who agreed to stop using Zoladex. The Department of Justice saw this marketing practice for what it was: fraud. It charged fifteen employees and five physicians for fraudulently promoting Lupron. On October 3, 2001, TAP agreed to pay almost $900 million to settle the government's criminal complaints. It was the largest settlement for health care fraud in U.S. history." - p 144
It seems time to quote my review of Marcia Angell's bk again:
""And TAP didn't stop there. In 1996, the company also tried to persuade a large Massachussetts HMO, Tufts Health Plan, to stay with Lupron by offering its medical director of pharmacy programs a $25,000 "educational" grant that he could use for anything he wanted. The company couldn't have chosen a worse target: The medical director of pharmacy programs, Joseph Gerstein, is someone I know to be among the least likely people to take a bribe. When Gerstein refused, the company upped the offer to $65,000. But this time Gerstein, who with the support of Tufts had alerted federal authorities, taped the conversation, and that led to the unraveling of the company's illegal activities." - p 131
"Ha ha ha. Oh, how I love seeing white collar criminals taken down. Of course, no-one goes to jail - while a friend of mine can get sentenced to 2 yrs in prison when he tries to legally purchase a case of beer not having an ID on him & gets into an altercation. HE goes to prison - but these corrupt shits sail clear as usual, a little bruised but still straight on course for more of the same. Nonetheless, thank you Joseph Gerstein for not beng bought.
""Many doctors become indignant when it is suggested that they might be swayed by all this industry largesse. But why else would drug companies put so much money into them? As Stephen Goldfinger, chairman of the APA's Committee on Commerical Support, said, "The pharmaceutical companies are an amoral bunch. They're not a benevolent association. So they are highly unlikely to donate large amounts of money without strings attached. Once one is dancing with the devil, you don't always get to call the steps of the dance."" - p 147"
The point is, as Angell so eloquently elucidates, that it's not just a case of a few corrupt criminal pharmaceutical companies, it's systemic, pharmaceutical companies in general are likely to use unscrupulous methods to increase their profits w/o making health their primary purpose. Hence, is it really any wonder that people find people like Wakefield believable? Offit may be 100% sincere in his pursuit of rotavirus vaccines but that doesn't mean that the more administrative/marketing/business arm of the whole industry shares his primary concerns. Hence, I find Offit's loyalty to the system he represents naive.
"And many parents swear by the wonders of chelating children, claiming dramatic improvement within days. But because a cell damaged by heavy metal doesn't recover-much less within a few days-this is simply not possible." - p 146
&, yet, at the same time that I can see that what Offit's saying seems reasonable, I've been told that things were "impossible" before by at least 2 doctors & they were both wrong. 1st, I was told by a doctor that steroids cdn't possibly be the cause of crippling pain that I had - but then I stopped taking the steroids & the pain went away. IMMEDIATELY. 2nd, I was told by a doctor that it was "impossible" for me to cure my hypothetical Diabetes Type II w/ diet & exercise & w/in 5 days of my proposed changes my symptoms were gone & w/in 2 wks my blood sugar was normalized. I'm sure that the same people who object to VAERS wd simply dismiss my testimonial. W/ these experiences in mind, I'm more inclined to believe the parents than I am the doctors. After all, doctors aren't perfect - in fact they can be downright arrogant assholes.
"When Tariq's calcium level dropped precipitously, his heart stopped beating. Tariq Nadama was the third person to die from EDTA therapy since 2002. But J. B. Handley's Rescue Angels wasn't about to quit. "We're not stopping," said one of them, Marla Green." - p 147
Now this child patient's death is tragic. The therapy being used was a bad idea. But Offit has a double standard: if kids die from vaccination it's tragic but vaccination in general is a-ok b/c Offit is a BELIEVER. However, if a kid dies from an alternate therapy that's a sure sign that the people administering that therapy are deranged & money-hungry. I fail to see the difference between what Offit supports & what the people he declares "False Prophets" support. They're both responsible for deaths, they both plow ahead anyway.
"In 1983, following a conviction for possession of illegal drugs, Kennedy was sentenced to two years' probation, periodic drug testing, mandatory supervision by Narcotics Anonymous, and 800 hours of community service. He satisfied his community service by working for the Hudson River Foundation, now called the Hudson Riverkeepers. Later, Kennedy became its chief prosecuting attorney." - p 149
The endnote on p 274 reveals that the drug in question was heroin. I think using heroin is a bad idea. Still, let's not forget that heroin was 1st manufactured & distributed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine by the prominent drug company, Bayer. Bayer sold it as such for 25 yrs. A very interesting bk to read on the subject of heroin is Alfred W. McCoy's "The Politics of Heroin". It's one of my favorite bks. Kennedy's sentencing for possession of heroin seems a bit light for 1983 but he's from a rich family so he had a Get-Out-Of-Jail Card. But let's get real here: if Offit's trying to establish Kennedy as a sleazy character then we'd better throw in the pharmaceutical industry & the US government as the BIG PUSHERS b/c Kennedy's a speck of dust on the culpability spectrum in contrast to them when it comes to heroin - &, perhaps hypocritically, Offit doesn't seem to have much of a problem w/ the pharmaceutical industry or the US Government in general. There's that double standard again.
Chapter 8 is called "Science in Court" - but is that what it's really about? Is it science that was on trial? Or is it, instead, a particular manifestation of science? It seems to me that the latter is more accurate but that Offit wants to act as if challenging any science he supports is challenging all science. Let's not confuse the 2.
"In the summer of 2007, parents of children with autism took their case to court. Called the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, it was an unusual lawsuit." - p 156
"They were suing the federal government in a federal court. That wasn't their preference. They would much rather have argued their cases in state courts in front of juries. In federal court they would have to convince a panel of three judges. But they had no choice; no one can sue a vaccine maker without first going through this unusual court." - p 156
"In 1986, following a series of lawsuits that threatened to end vaccine manufacture for American children, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Included in the act was the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If parents felt their children had been harmed by vaccines, they sued the federal government for compensation, making their arguments in front of federally appointed judges. As a consequence, the number of lawsuits brought against vaccine makers declined dramatically." - pp 156-157
If that doesn't reek of lobbying I don't know what does. If lawsuits put an end to vaccination for children wdn't that just be due process? Instead, the government has the vaccine manufacturer's back - regardless of how much legal evidence might accrue that the vaccinations are harmful. 1986 was during the Reagan presidency. For those of you too young to remember what that was like, Reagan was a 'conservative' president (it's questionable what he was 'conserving'). To me, he was a glaring puppet president. Once again, I quote from Angell & my review of her bk about those yrs in relation to Big Pharma:
""You could choose to do well or you could choose to do good, but most people who had any choice in the matter thought it difficult to do both. That belief was particularly strong among scientists and other intellectuals. They could choose to live a comfortable but not luxurious life in academia, hoping to do exciting cutting-edge research, or they could "sell out" to industry and do less important but more remunerative work. Starting in the Reagan years and continuing through the 1990s, Americans changed their tune. It became not only reputable to be wealthy, but something close to virtuous. There were "winners" and there were "losers," and the winners were rich and deserved to be." - p 6
"Of course, the author is referring to her own professional class here; simultaneously there were punks & anarchists & other 'lunatic fringe' types whose priorities were definitely not w/ getting rich but were instead w/ Truth, Justice, & the Unamerican Way. I was solidly in that camp. How many of us were following legal developments such as what Angell details next I don't know, I certainly wasn't. But the Reagan administration in general was definitely high on the shit list.
""The most important of these laws is known as the Bayh-Dole Act, after its chief sponsors, Senator Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) and Senator Robert Dole (R-Kans). Bayh-Dole enabled universities and small businesses to patent discoveries emanating from research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the major distributor of tax dollars for medical research, and then to grant exclusive licenses to drug companies. Until then, taxpayer-financed discoveries were in the public domain, available to any company that wanted to use them." - p 7
"Hhmm.. Taxpayer money pays for research, results enter Public Domain. That seems reasonable to me. But it also seems reasonable for researchers to benefit from their hard work above & beyond just salaries. Surely, a compromise solution cd be reached in wch the research stays in the public domain but the researchers are still rewarded for their exceptional accomplishment. At any rate, the Reagan admin was about benefitting big business, not the public. & the following is still from his January 20, 1981 January 20, 1989 reign.
""Starting in 1984, with legislation known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, Congress passed another series of laws that were just as big a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. These laws extended monopoly rights for brand-name drugs. Exclusivity is the lifeblood of the industry because it means that no other company may sell the same drug for a set period. After exclusive marketing rights expire, copies (called generic drugs) enter the market, and the price usually falls to as little as 20 percent of what it was." - p 9
"A justification for the original drug's high price is basically that the drug company had to spend a fortune on R&D (Research & Development). A significant part of this bk is spent debunking that as a PR myth."
Note that there was much more going on in those yrs that protected Big Pharma than just the "National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act" that Offit refers to.
"Vaccine court was originally developed to handle one case at a time. But between 1999 and 2007, more than 5,000 parents filed claims that vaccines had caused their children's autism. This was twice the number of claims filed for all other vaccine-related injuries in the twenty years since the program had begun. Because of the number of claims and because the federal judges knew that it would be impossible to hear each case individually, they recommended that autism claims be tried together, like a class-action lawsuit. "There's never been another case like this," said Kevin Conway. one of the lawyers for the petitioners. With average individual awards of close to $1 million and thousands of petitioners, it was possible that a ruling in favor of the petitioners could exhaust the $2 billion available to compensate claimants. Much was at stake." - p 158
That's a fascinating practical problem. It's also unfortunately one not likely to result in justice for even the most valid of the claims. My general attitude toward lawyers is even more negative than mine toward doctors. But there are always exceptions, I've had friends in both professions.
"Thomas Powers, from the Portland, Oregon, law firm of Williams, Love, O'Leary and Powers, was the first to speak on Michelle Cedillo's benefit. Powers's firm had successfully filed lawsuits against the makers of silicone breast implants, as well as against Fen-Phen, a weight loss product associated with heart problems, and the Dalkon Shield, an intrauterine birth control device found to cause severe infections and infertility. Class-action awards for the Dalkon Shield had totaled more than $2 billion; for breast implants, nearly $5 billion; and for Fen-Phen, $21 billion (and counting). These awards had made Williams, Love, O'Leary and Powers one of the richest, most powerful law firms in the United States.
"Sylvia Chin-Caplan, from the Boston law firm of Conway, Chin-Caplan and Homer, also represented Michelle Cedillo. Chin-Caplan's firm specialized in claims before vaccine court, which allows lawyers to receive only 4 percent of awards. Trying cases before vaccine court isn't a very good way for personal-injury lawyers to make a lot of money. So unlike Thomas Powers and his partners, Chin-Caplan's firm was neither rich nor powerful, operating out of a modest three-story walk-up downtown." - p 160
I didn't find an endnote providing sources for the income info but I'm assuming that it's accurate enuf. If this had actually been a class action suit the lawyers cd've been considerably more motivated by greed b/c they'd, presumably (am I wrong?) be getting 4 percent of a HUGE settlement. As it is, these lawyers might've only made twice what I made in a good yr for what was probably less than a yr's work, a nothing by most people's standards.
""Michelle was born on August 30, 1994. She weighed eight pounds, roughly, and her Apgars [a ten-point scale of a baby's health measured one and five minutes after birth] were nine and nine. In other words, she was perfectly healthy. [The day] after she was born, she received a hepatitis B immunization. It contained 12.5 micrograms of mercury." - pp 162-163
I think giving a baby an injection of anything a day after their birth is utter insanity. Take someone at their greatest extreme of vulnerability & inject a poison into them that will supposedly protect them against disease & say that's safe?! I think not. To my mind, any sane parent wd be opposed to this. Of course, the 'experts' will use their best bedside intimidation manner to talk them into it.
"Vera Byers, who said thimerosal had caused a "dysregulation" of Michelle's immune system, also had her credibility challenged. Byers had described herself as a member of the faculty of the University of Nottingham and later the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) as well as a member of the clinical team "that got Embrel approved." (Embrel is a drug used to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.) But Byers wasn't on the faculty at either Nottingham or UCSF, and her name never appeared on the Biologics License Application to the FDA for the approval of Embrel." - p 167
Ok, that's downright strange. One wd think that a person so easily found out to be a fraud wd've been easily detected by the lawyers for the claimants & have been weeded out before the defense attorneys wd investigate them. After all, Byers's lack of claimed credentials wd be enuf to severely discredit the entire case.
"The testimony of Eric Fombonne refuted the petitioners' claim that Michelle's autism occurred after she had received an MMR vaccine." - p 170
But did it really? The testimony consisted of Fombonne analyzing Michelle's behavior on video before she was vaccinated & pointing out things about it that he claimed were autistic. It seems to me that such testimony might put an interpretative spin on things that seems convincing but might be questionable. It seems to me that what the defense cd've done was show video of a non-autistic child & looked for similar mannerisms. Lawyers & 'expert' witnesses are masters of manipulative language. Independent of that, Fombonne's tesimony didn't refute that there may've been negative effects from vaccinations she rc'vd before the taking of the video.
I saw a demonstration of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) one time in wch the NLP speaker inserted into his speech emphasized words telling the audience to do something like rub their eyes. Then he looked for whoever rubbed their eyes & told them they did it b/c he'd subliminally manipulated them. Of course, in order for it to be more convincing, everyone shd've rubbed their eyes & rubbing the eyes shd be a behavior that's not frequent & normal otherwise.
"Nicholas Chadwick testifed that Andrew Wakefield had not only ignored data that disproved his contention, but he also knowingly falsified them, If true, this revelation showed Wakefield had crossed the line from ill-conceived, poorly performed science to fraud." - p 174
I don't know what to make of that. Offit does qualify this w/ "If true" & that seems fair enuf. I consulted my review of "Callous Disregard" to see if there's mention of Chadwick & didn't find any. I did find this:
""In this study, measles virus genetic material was present in CSF from 19 of 28 (68%) cases and in one of 37 (3%) non-autism controls. Further tests confirmed that where there was sufficient amount of sample available, the genetic material was consistent with having come from the vaccine virus.
""The draft paper concludes by saying,
""The data indicate that virological analysis of CSF is indicated in children undergoing autistic regression following exposure to live vaccine viruses.
""The Paper's conclusions stop well short of any claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The most one can say from the findings of measles viral genetic material in CSF is that there is a strong statistical association between the presence of this virus and the autism group." - p 158
"As the reader has probably deduced by now, "CSF" = Cerebrospinal Fluid. As the reader has probably also deduced, the emboldening of exposure is the author's."
SO, yes, "If true," [MAYBE] "this revelation showed Wakefield had crossed the line" [..] "to fraud." - I'm still not convinced about the "ill-conceived, poorly performed science" part of the statement.
"The three judges in charge of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding aren't expected to reach a final verdict on whether vaccines might cause autism until 2009." - p 175
This being 2022, we can now find the results:
"In 2002, the NVICP, in consultation with a Petitioners Steering Committee, set up the Omnibus Autism Proceeding to aggregate these cases. They decided to examine six test cases that made one or more of the following claims about the vaccines-autism link:
"· Claims that MMR vaccines and other thimerosal-containing vaccines can combine to cause autism.
· Claims that center on vaccines containing thimerosal causing autism.
· Claims that MMR vaccines alone (with no mention of thimerosal) can cause autism.
"Three Special Masters examined the evidence for each of those claims. In 2009, they handed down their decisions. For each claim, the three Special Masters concluded that there were no links between vaccines and autism."
The Cedillos appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A decision was made upholding the original decision on August 27, 2010.
"Dr. Krigsman testified as to an autism-gastrointestinal dysfunction link and opined that the MMR vaccine can cause chronic gastrointestinal dysfunction. He testifed in particular that Michelle's gastrointestinal symptoms and ultimately, her autism, were caused by persistent measles virus from the MMR vaccine. Petitioners' theory of causation depended on the Unigenetics finding that the measles virus was present in Michelle Cedillo's body."
"In particular, in order to establish the unreliability of the Unigenetics testing, the government offered expert testimony and reports from, among others, Dr. Stephen Bustin, a molecular biologist who was an expert in the UK litigation. In connection with those proceedings, Dr. Bustin was hired by vaccine manufacturers to evaluate the testing methods used by Unigenetics and to assess the validity of Unigenetics works. After analyzing Unigenetics equipment and notebooks, he concluded that the procedures used by Unigenetics rendered the testing unreliable."
Ok, it's belaboring the obvious to say that an expert witness hired by vaccine manufacturers to determine whether evidence used against them was validly obtained isn't likely to find contrary to the employer's interests.
"We agree with petitioners that the government's failure to produce or even to request the documentation underlying Dr. Bustin's reports is troubling, but we think that in the circumstances of this case, that failure does not justify reversal."
"Finally, the Special Master specifically found that even if he were to disregard Dr. Bustin's expert reports and hearing testimony-and if he were to disregard all of the testimony from all of the experts that participated in the British litigation-he would have still concluded that the Unigenetics testing was not reliable. In doing so, he noted that the main points in his rejection of the Unigenetics testing were "(1) the fact that the laboratory failed to publish any sequencing data to confirm the validity of its testing, (2) the failure of other laboratories to replicate the Unigenetics testing, and (3) the demonstration by the D'Souza group that the Uhlmann primers were 'nonspecific.''"
I don't have an opinion about what the causes of Michelle Cedillo's autism are. Mainly, I just feel saddened that her parents went thru 12 yrs of litigation to get no satisfaction, only more frustration.
"When parents became concerned that vaccines had caused their children's autism, scientists responded by performing a series of epidemiological studies. All showed the same thing: vaccines weren't at fault. But despite the singular, consistent, reproducible, and clear results of these studies-and consequent reassurances from national and international health groups-many parents remain fearful. Why?" - p 176
Why? Probably b/c children who were vaccinated continued to turn autistic & parents were desperately seeking an explanation & a way to avoid this from happening. Probably b/c the parents, mostly non-scientists, were unable to determine wch opinions they were given were most believable - in Offit's terms: wch were good & wch were bad science. Probably b/c there was always the well-grounded suspicion that pro-vaccine results were produced by researchers funded by vaccine makers. That's like having a department of the police investigate another department of the police for criminal behavior - the public is right to expect nothing more than a little dramatic theater that solves nothing. One of the best ways of testing whether vaccinations lead to health problems is to simply not vaccinate every child whose parents are opposed to or wary of vaccination & to compare the vaccinated & unvaccinated childen for relative health.
"In the case of vaccines and autism, it isn't hard to find scientists on both sides of the debate. But, in truth, it isn't hard to find scientists on both sides of any issue, independent of whether it's a debate." - p 179
Hence, my opinion that there is no such thing as THE SCIENCE, meaning a single scientific position that all scientists are in agreement on. I keep saying this over & over to refute the people who say: What's THE SCIENCE? as if in any issue science has a single answer wch defines absolute truth.
"Scientists, bound only by reason, are society's true anarchists. Indeed, some of the greatest advances in medicine have been made by scientists who initially stood alone. For example, Barry Marshall, working at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia, argued that an unusual bacterium called Helicobacter pylori caused stomach ulcers. No one at the time believed that bacteria could survive the harsh acid produced by the stomach, much less reproduce and cause disease. But Marshall was so convinced by his findings that he swallowed a Petri dish full of the bacteria, later developing severe inflammation in his stomach. In 2005, Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize in Medicine." - p 185
Marshall's explanations of how he digested the Petri dish alone were priceless. But seriously folks, I consider myself to be a 'true anarchist' so I must be a scientist too. After all, I have multiple diplomas from t he Nuclear Brain Physics Surgery's Cool. What more accreditation do you need? Is there a Nobel Prize for Stubborn Persistence?
"In short, not all rogue scientists are good scientists. "History is replete with tales of the lone scientist working in spite of his peers and flying in the face of doctrines," wrote Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things. "Most of them turned out to be wrong and we do not remember their names. For every Galileo shown the instruments of torture for advocating scientific truth, there are a thousand or ten thousand unknowns whose 'truths' never pass muster."" - p 186
Doesn't it also follow that not every mainstream scientist is a good scientist? After all, mediocrity thrives best in not rocking the boat. A scientist who goes to a university & excels in believing whatever they're taught is not likely to apply the scientific method under conditions where doing so might threaten their middle-of-the-road comfort. Does Shermer include, under "weird things", the belief that cutting a person's arm & rubbing cow pus in the wound will prevent that person from getting smallpox? That seems like a pretty weird belief to me. Does he include the belief that some people have that people whose public image is that they're 'good' are unquestionably good? That the TV 'News' never lies? That a person who writes a bk from the POV that they have their finger on the pulse of objectivity must, therefore, be right?
& what about Giordano Bruno? He seems to be largely forgotten yet he was held in a Catholic dungeon & tortured for 8 yrs until he was burned at the stake in public on February 17, 1600 - all b/c he had opinions & observations similar to those of Copernicus & Galileo. Galileo didn't die until January 8, 1642. Instead of being tortured & burnt at the stake he recanted & denounced his astronomical observations to save his ass - & it's Galileo who's remembered - not Bruno. For that matter, Copernicus was before both of them.
ALSO, I seriously doubt that there're even "a thousand" but even more certainly "ten thousand unknowns whose 'truths' never pass muster". It seems to me that Shermer's fictitious & dramatic figuring serves a purpose of discrediting free thinkers & doesn't really have any statistical backbone to it whatsoever. Then again, I haven't read his bk - maybe I shd.
"Another trap for journalists is the lure of the single study. After Andrew Wakefield published his paper in the Lancet claiming that MMR caused autism" - p 186
Ok, sure the press is going to grab onto the simplest most sensationalist thing. They're not as interested in the 'truth' as they are interested in getting advertising to support themselves by 'reporting' on whatever rivets the boobs to their tube. One of these simple sensationalist things is to reduce Wakefield to the-guy-who-says-MMR-causes-autism. I barely care about the subject & I'm already irritated by Offit's repetition of this oversimplification. To quote the same passage <i>again</i> from my review of Callous Disregard:
""The data indicate that virological analysis of CSF is indicated in children undergoing autistic regression following exposure to live vaccine viruses.
""The Paper's conclusions stop well short of any claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The most one can say from the findings of measles viral genetic material in CSF is that there is a strong statistical association between the presence of this virus and the autism group." - p 158"
SO, you see?, Wakefield, a person constantly misquoted as saying that the MMR vaccine causes autism, denies that this is true. Offit doesn't actually quote Wakefield as saying that, he simply asserts it as if it's a known fact. Is that 'bad science'?
"That's because scientists, even excellent scientists working at pretigious institutions, often get it wrong" - p 186
It really seems like Offit doesn't even learn his own lessons. Scientists are NOT voices of the Gods passing on absolute truth to those under them in the hierarchy. Instead. they're people, usually specialists, who give their informed opinion - but they don't know everything, & there're belief systems underlying those opinions that're just as fallible as any other, so any intelligent person shd consider their opinion, if it seems relevant to a subject of importance to them, & then make their own decision about what fits their own perceptions the best.
"After Eric Fombonne's testimony, the only other strategy left to the petitioners' lawyers was to question how scientists know things. They never disputed the fact that at the time ten separate epidemiological studies had exonerated MMR or that five had exonerated thimerosal; rather, they disputed the reach of those studies. Scientists are only human, they reasoned, they can't know everything." - pp 190-191
"Certainly it is true that scientists can't know everything, that the scientific method has limits, and that epidemiologial studies cannot detect extremely rare events. But to use these truths as a basis to claim that MMR and thimerosal caused autism, to build an industry based on mercury-binding therapies or chemical castration, and to sue the federal government and pharmaceutical companies for the harm they have caused is an unjustified and dangeous leap." - p 191
Fair enuf - but to question any opinion, research-based or not, on the basis that it's not adequately matching one's own observations is also fair enuf. I'm not going to believe an opinion from any scientist, so-called 'good' or so-called 'bad', just b/c they present that opinion as if they're a mouthpiece for objective truth. I'd have to add that building an industry based on vaccinations & a host of other acccepted medical practices is just as objectionable to me as "mercury-binding therapies or chemical castration". Offit distinguishes between them b/c he considers himself to be on the side of 'good' science, I consider them to be entirely too similar - AND "unjustified and dangeous".
"During the vaccine-autism controversy, Joe Lieberman, then a Democratic senator from Massachusetts; Christopher Dodd, another Democratic senator from Connecticutt; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of the most famous Democratic political family in America, all warned of the danger of vaccines-warnings that appeared on Don Imus's national radio program and in full-page advertisements in the New York Times and USA Today. Why? Given the wealth of epidemiological studies clearly showing vaccines didn't cause autism, why did these politicians stand up and tell the press and the public they did? A cynical view would be that they were paid to do it. Many Democractic politicians receive healthy contributions from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now the American Association for Justice), one of the most powerful lobbies in Congress." - p 192
Oh.. C'MON! This bk was copyrighted in 2008. A mere 12 yrs later, in 2020, the Democratic Party was all about every Draconian medical measure that they shoved down the public's throat - including vaccination.
"The pharmaceutical industry has by far the largest lobby in Washington-and that's saying something. In 2002 it employed 675 lobbyists (more than one for each member of Congress)-many drawn from 138 Washington lobbying firms-at a cost of over $91 million." - p 198, Marcia Angell, M.D.'s "The Truth About the Drug Companies - How They Deceive Us and What to do About It"
Offit conveniently leaves out the Big Pharma lobbying force. It's interesting, to me at least, that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, is one of the few Democrats who's remained true to his position that vaccines shd be better tested & that they shdn't be pushed thru w/ Emergency Authorizations.
However, I shd mention that Offit doesn't leave his argument where my quote from him ended. He points out that the Republicans also supported the notion that vaccines cause autism. He explains this rare bipartisan solidarity thusly:
"The more likely explanation for politicians' involvement in the autism debate is that they have been responding to their constituents-us."
"Their scaremongering has only encouraged some parents to subject their autistic children to potentially harmful therapies or to withhold vaccines that might save their lives." - p 193
& the scaremongering goes on & on to this day, except that now it's over a 'pandemic' the existence of wch I find to be so ridiculously exaggerated that it wd be insane if it didn't so obviously serve business interests. & this scaremongering originates from every propaganda source there is: the politicians, certainly, the mass media, certainly, but also the Medical Industry that Offit considers to represent 'good' science. How many thousands of people have encouraged their reluctant relatives to get vaccinated to 'save their lives' only to have them die shortly thereafter from 'rare but possible' side-effects?
"But Wakefield and Geier failed to recognize that science isn't about faith; it's about data." - p 194
Yeah, faith in data.
"The Church banned Galileo's offending book, forbade publication of his future works, and ordered him imprisoned for the rest of his life. But Galileo knew he was right; as he was led away from his Roman inquisitors, he muttered, referring to the earth: "Eppur si muove" (And yet it moves)."
"Later, when Brent Taylor presented his data in front of Burton's congressional committee, Burton denounced him in much the same way as the Church had denounced Galileo." - p 197
Gee, that's not a heavy-handed dramatic hero-creating comparsion or anything is it? A scientist presents data in Congress that goes against the beliefs of the congressman heading the committee. Did Burton have the scientist hauled away in irons to a dungeon where he might be tortured for those opinions? Did the scientist face being burnt at the stake?! Nope. He might've even gotten a nice meal out of it or some sort of honorarium. So why all the drama?! To make the scientist seem like a daring hero-in-search-of-truth instead of just another schlep.
"In a culture dominated by cynicism and hungry for scandal, many people believe that doctors, scientists, and public health officials cater to a pharmaceutical industry willing to do anything including promote dangerous vaccines-for profit." - p 198
I'm not sure that I'm a cynic, more of an observant social critic, & I'm definitely not "hungry for scandal" &, yeah, I believe people who get wealthy get so by doing things that aren't very ethical. I also believe that Big Pharma uses its enormous wealth to make things go the way it wants to so that it can make even more enormous wealth. As far as vaccines go: to me it's not so much a matter of Big Pharma deliberately making a dangerous vaccine - it seems more reasonable to think that Big Pharma spends money on research & production & expects a 'healthy' return on its investment. If something seems to threaten that then a 'healthy' dose of self-delusion goes a long way to justifying pushing the product anyway - by hook or by crook. If at the bottom of this there's an 'axiom' that vaccines are good then that self-delusion is easier to maintain w/o any cracks in it. To me, Offit exemplifies this - he can admit to all sorts of errors, including fatal ones, in medical procedure - but as long as he has his UNSHAKEABLE FAITH in vaccines, everything's ok.
"And it's not just the unseemliness of promoting lifestyle products that hurts pharmaceutical companies; some marketing practices have clearly evolved from aggressive to unethical. As a consequence, we don't trust pharmaceutical companies. Nor do we trust the doctors or scientists who work with them. Kenneth Rothman, an epidemiologist from Boston University, calls this "the new McCarthyism."" - p 199
What exactly is this "new McCarthyism"? A distrust of pharmaceutical companies & the doctors & scientists who work for them?! That's such a ridiculous & idiotic statement that it's almost insufferable. Just as Offit's comparing the negative reaction that Brent Taylor got from Dan Burton when testifying to Congress to Galileo's experience was a completely over-the-top drama queen move meant to make Taylor out to be some sort of near-legendary hero, so is this "new McCarthyism" bullshit. During the time of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), people were being blackballed so they cdn't make a living & they were being sent to prison for their ideas. These doctors & scientists who work for pharmaceutical companies are making megabucks, they're not going to prison - once again, Offit is trying to make them out as persecuted heros. They're not, they're just people doing a job that pays very well b/c there're huge profits involved. If someone calls attn to unethical aspects of this job from time-to-time they're not losing their job & being put in prison - life just goes on as business as usual for them.
"For example, when Andrew Wakefield published his study of autistic children in the Lancet, he should have acknowledged that he had previously received money from Richard Barr and that Barr represented some of these children in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies. The irony in Andrew Wakefield's case was that not only did he fail to inform the Lancet's readership of his funding source, but he failed to inform his coinvestigators, most of whom later withdrew their names from his paper." - p 200
Wakefield more or less refutes all of that. Here's more from my review of Wakefield's "Callous Disregard":
"On to the 1st paragraph of chapter 11, "Disclosure":
""I have been accused and ultimately found guilty of professional misconduct for not disclosing in The Lancet paper that I was a medical expert involved in assessing the merits of litigation against the manufacturers of MMR on behalf of plaintiff children possibly damaged by the vaccine. Notwithstanding the fact that long before publication details of my involvement as an expert in the litigation had been provided to my senior coauthors, the dean of the medical school, and the editor of The Lancet, it is a matter of fact that it was not disclosed in the publisher paper." - p 169
"Some, or much, of this bk borders on legalese - in other words, technical fine points that are potentially valid but still have the stink of lawyer-manipulation-speech about them. This essentially applies to both the charges against Wakefield, wch are all-too-easy to write off as an attempt to discredit something that might lead to exposure of both Big Pharma & the UK's medical establishment as not living up to their responsibilities, AND to Wakefield's defense of himself. My inclination is to favor Wakefield even when I find some of the logic tricky. Wakefield argues that the disclosure rules of The Lancet did not require the particular type of disclosure that he's accused of not presenting at the time of publication. These rules than changed to be stricter in the yrs that followed.
""What have been the practical consequences for this move to stricter disclosure requirements from 1998 to 2007 for The Lancet?"
""With the stricter rules in place, between 1998 and 2007 the rate of disclosures per Lancet article went from one in two hundred to more than one in two articles." - p 170
"OK, that's obviously a huge & very significant difference."
As for the coinvestigators withdrawing their names from the Lancet paper? It seems likely to me that they knew wch way the wind was blowing & were saving their careers - that doesn't mean that they didn't originally support the findings of the paper. After all, contrary to Offit's depiction of scientists as Galileo-like heros undergoing McCarthy Era style persecution, most scientists are just people out to make a living, not heros.
"In the end, it doesn't matter who funds a scientific study. It could be funded by pharmaceutical companies, the federal government, personal-injury lawyers, parent advocacy groups, or religious organizations. Good science will be reproduced by other investigators; bad science won't." - p 201
I find that statement to be myopically self-delusional. If there're 20 studies funded by one biased source (pick any of the above) there's going to be reproducibility - & that won't make the result 'good' science. If the 20 studies are funded by 20 different sources w/ conflicting agendas & there's still reproducibility then that makes the data much more believable. But if one side in a legal argument produces research data that reinforces their position & the opposing side does the same what does it prove? To me? Only that science can be skewed every wch way to support ulterior motives & unquestioned axioms (i.e. belief systems) such as the faith that Offit has in mainstream medicine.
"Other aspects of our culture also determine how people process scientific information. During the past few decades, doctors have started to treat patients differently. No longer do they always take a paternalistic, I-know-what's-best-for-you-so-don't-worry aprroach. Doctors are more apt to encourage patients to actively participate in their own medical care." - p 202
As long as they continue to buy the drugs.
"When Lyn Redwood and Sallie Bernard searched the medical literature for clues to the causes of autism, they were doing only what many doctors encourage parents to do: participate in the care of their children." - p 202
But, really, doctors have co-opted people's self-care. These days, many people talk about "their doctor", they go to "their doctor" fairly often. Business is good. If they were dedicating more time to their self-care, going to "their doctor" wd be something they'd do very rarely. Instead, they go to "their doctor" & the doctor prescribes them pills b/c they're overweight &/or depressed &/or whatever. They shd be taking care of these problems on their own but they abdicate their responsibility & pay for the doctor to be responsible for them. But, then, surprise, surprise (NOT) the pills have side-effects & they need to take new pills to counterbalance the side-effects of the old ones & a vicious circle just goes on & on.. & the doctor profits while the patient wallows in their lack of self-responsibility.
"If they want to research thimerosal, they should read the hundred or so studies on mercury toxicity, as well as the eight epidemiological studies that examined whether thimerosal caused harm. This would take a lot of time."
"Instead they read other people's opinions about them on the Internet. Parents can't be blamed for not reading the original studies; doctors don't read most of them either. And frankly, few doctors have the expertise necessary to fully understand them, so they rely on experts who collectively have the expertise." - p 203
Such a system leaves plenty of room for error. Rather than study the epidemiological reports most people wd probably trust 1st-hand testimonials more. I was told by a doctor that it was "impossible" for me to have reactive arthritis as response to steroids. Still, stopping the steroids solved my problem. When I tell that story to friends they recount similar experiences. I don't care what the epidemiological reports say, if I suffer from steroids & cease to suffer after I stop taking them then steroids aren't for me. If someone reads about my experience online they can take it into consideration, maybe they won't have a bad experience, maybe they will.
"During the past century, vaccines have helped to increase the life span of Americans by thirty years, and they have a remarkable record of safety." - p 203
Life spans have increased. Not everyone attributes that to vaccines. The people who die from them certainly don't have their life spans increased!
"Perhaps the greatest human accomplishment of the past century was the remarkable increase in life expectancy. In a century the world changed markedly from having almost no countries with life expectancy more than 50 years to having many countries with a life expectancy of 80 years as life expectancy almost doubled in the long-lived part of the world. As an example, in the United States life expectancy at birth over the 110 years from 1900 to 2010 went from 47.3 to 78.7 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics [CDC/NCHS], 2012, 2013). At first, this increasing length of life resulted from declines in infectious disease and deaths concentrated among the young. After most deaths from infectious conditions were eliminated, cardiovascular conditions and cancer dominated the causes of death. These then became the targets of science and medicine in the second half of the last century.
"Due in large part to declining mortality from heart disease, life expectancy continued to increase in the last decades of the 20th century. Because heart disease primarily causes death among older adults, recent increases in life expectancy have occurred at older ages. Life expectancy has increased all the way up the age range, certainly up to 100 years. For instance, life expectancy at ages 65 and 85 increased by about 50% over the century (Bell & Miller, 2005)."
While "declines in infectious disease and deaths concentrated among the young" wd probably be attributed to vaccines by many, others attribute it to improved sanitation & nutrition. Greater longevity can also be attributed to keeping people alive as long as possible regardless of dramatically decreased quality of life. Do you want to be blind & deaf living in a nursing home pushed around in a wheel-chair, kept alive by a regimen of pills? I don't. That's not really my idea of what being alive is. I prefer to have as high a quality of life as I can manage & then to die w/o medical intervention. Maybe I'll die in my 70s as a result, rather than dragging my life out to my 90s.
"Harkin had been influenced by fellow Iowan Berkeley Bedell, who was convinced that his Lyme disease had been cured by eating special whey from Lyme-infected cows." - p 205
Offit considers this to be aternative medicine. To me, it's no different from the basic principle of vaccination. The idea of using something connected to the cause of suffering to relieve that suffering is widespread. Take this example:
"Palauans have a remedy for the venomous sting of the rabbitfish, which could be of more general pharmacological use. They rub the raw internal organs (or sometimes just the gallbladder) of the fish on the wound and the pain subsides in just a few minutes. The fact that the sting never causes pain if a person is attacked only once suggests that the reaction is of an immunological nature." - p 74, Daniel Nettle & Suzanne Romaine's "Vanishing Voices - The Extinction of the World's Languages"
I find the above example to be a little different, though. Something that a creature gives off as poison isn't poisonous to that creature. Therefore, it has an internal antidotal chemistry that can be exploited as such. Ideally, one wd just manage to be mindful enuf of the rabbitfish to never rub it the wrong way.
"science is the only discipline that enables one to distinguish myth from fact" - p 207
That, in itself, seems like a myth to me. Who are the ultimate mediators of absolute truth? No-one.
"Although the scientific method has almost single-handedly brought us out of the Dark Ages and into the Age of Enlightenment, it can be difficult to explain how it works." - 208
More of the same mythifying. One friend of mine considers this to be the Technological Dark Ages. If the so-called 20th Century was a part of this so-called Age of Enlightenment then there sure was a plethora of enlightened scientific cleverness put into making life miserable & genocidal. I'm glad we're not living in an age when heretics such as myself were crucified on the outskirts of cities. We can thank the untempered dominance of religious fanaticism for those days. Alas, now science has become the new religion for many people, they don't have to believe in God (& I'm w/ them there) to support fanatical dictatorships, science can be the new justification for cruelty. Militarized police forces for suppressing popular uprisings can be very scientific. On the other hand, artists and musicians may've played as large or larger a part in creating the so-called Age of Enlightenment than scientists did - but since Offit's not one he myopically credits only scientists. I'll take Pietr Bruegel the elder over Edward Jenner anyday.
& where does Cotton Mather fit in? He's credited w/ being the 1st European-descended American to innoculate - at the same time he was a witch-persecutor. Was he Dark Ages or Age of Enlightenment? It seems to me that he personifies the type of arrogance & pompous sense of entitlement that scientists can exemplify, that scientists can turn into Dark Ages behavior.
"When Andrew Wakefield reported the stories of eight children with autism whose parents first noticed problems within one month of their children's receiving MMR, he was observing something that statistically had to happen. At the time, 90 percent of children in the United Kingdom were getting the vaccine, and one of every 2,000 was diagnosed with autism. Because MMR is given soon after a child's first birthday, when children first acquire language and communication skills, it was a statistical certainty that some children who got MMR would soon be diagnosed with autism." - pp 209-210
"Another aspect of our culture-and one reason the MMR and thimerosal controversies gained immediate attention-is that it's easy to scare people." - p 214
& in that case, it scared people away from vaccines. These days, it's scared people into going along w/ every oppressive Medical Industry nonsense shoved down their throats - particularly wearing masks for yrs on end & getting vaccination after vaccination. Most of the SHEEPLE who're terrorized into such conformity sincerely believe that if they don't go along w/ the program they will die. Somehow, seeing HERETICS such as myself not wearing masks (most of the time) & not getting vaccinated not even getting sick they can't even understand that the HERETICS are living proof of the inaccuracy of the scaremongering.
"As a consequence, people are more frightened by things that are less likely to hurt them. They are scared of pandemic flu but not epidemic flu (which kills more than 30,000 people a year in the United States)" - p 217
Funny, I'm not scared of the flu at all - & I don't think most people wd be if they weren't so susceptible to Medical Industry-induced panic.
"Researchers have shown that autism is genetic by studying twins. They found that when one identical twin had autism spectrum disorder, the risk to the second twin was greater than 90 percent; in contrast when one fraternal twin had autism, the risk to the second twin was less than 10 percent. Because identical twins share the same genes and fraternal twins don't, these studies proved that autism was in large part genetic." - p 218
I can see the logic of that. But what will that be used to justify? Last yr I read a bk by The President's Council on Bioethics called "Beyond Therapy - Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness" & wrote a review of it. The bk is almost 2 decades old now but the authors did have considerable prescience about the possibilities, negative & positive, of genetic modification. Here's a sample of my review:
"Definitions of "biotechnology" are given in a footnote on p 1:
""These range from "engineering and biological study of relationships between human beings and machines" (Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, 1988), to "biological science when applied especially in genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology" (Mirriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary, 2003), to "the use of biological processes to solve problems or make useful products" (Glossary provided by BIO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, www.bio.org, 2003). In the broader sense of the term that we follow here, older technologies would include fermentation (used to bake bread and brew beer) and plant and animal hybridization. Newer biotechnologies would include, among others, processes to produce genetically engineered crops, to repair genetic defects using genomic knowledge, to develop new drugs based on knowledge of biochemistry or molecular biology, and to improve biological capacities using nanotechnology. They include also the products obtained by these processes: nucleic acids and proteins, drugs, genetically modified cells, tissues derived from stem cells, biomechanical devices, etc." - p 1
""In this sense, it appears as a most recent and vibrant expression of the technological spirit, a desire and disposition rationally to understand, order, predict, and (ultimately) control the events and workings of nature, all pursued for the sake of human benefit." - p 2
"This was the type of rhetoric that I was expecting, one untempered by acknowledgment of things that can go wrong. Note no mention of bioweaponry, e.g.. Note no mention of "control" as imprisonment. But it isn't long before the authors redeem themselves:
""Biotechnologies are already available as instruments of bioterrorism (for example, genetically engineered super-pathogens or drugs that can destroy the immune system or erase memory), as agents of social control (for example, tranquilizers for the unruly or fertility-blockers for the impoverished)" - p 6"
""We want better children-but not by turning procreation into manufacture or by altering their brains to gain them an edge over their peers. We want to perform better in the activities of life-but not by becoming mere creatures of our chemists or by turning ourselves into tools designed to win or achieve in inhuman ways. We want longer lives-but not at the cost of living carelessly or shallowly with diminished aspiration for living well, and not by becoming people so obsessed with our own longevity that we care little about the next generations. We want to be happy-but not because of a drug that gives us happy feelings without the real loves, attachment, and achievements that are essential for true human flourishing." - p xvii
"How many people have given much thought to the above considerations? Entirely too few IMO (In My Opinion) - including those who clamor for "the science". Yes, let's have "the science" - but let's not act as if all science inevitably generates change for the better."
"Then researchers found it wasn't only drugs that could cause autism; viruses could do it too. If mothers were infected with rubella virus (German measles) early in pregnancy, their babies were at higher risk of autism. More than any other clues, thalidomide and rubella showed that environmental factors could influence the devlopment of autism." - p 219
Offit is calling drugs "environmental factors", I'd call them "human-introduced toxins". Vaccines fit into that category.
"Somewhere in 2000, I was on the Internet and found a description of hyperlexia, the very early ability to read." - p 222
That's me! I remember being in my mother's womb & writing a treatise on the cave paintings I found there.
"Roy Ranger Grinker got his doctorate from Harvard University and is now professor of anthropology and director of the Institute for Ethnographic Research at George Washington University. He's also the father of an autistic teenage daughter, Isabel."
"Grinker is excited by the explosion in autism research. Recently, he received a grant from the National Alliance for Autism Research to conduct the first-ever epidemiological study of autism in Korea. Like Clark, Seidel, amd Hotez, Grinker doesn't believe vaccines cause autism" - p 231
& like Seidel, at least, since Grinker's on the 'right side' of the debate, Offit isn't bothered by Grinker's lack of relevant academic-scientific training.
Offit quotes actress Jenny McCarthy on the Oprah TV show:
"I do have a theory [based on] mommy instinct."
"What number does it take for people just to start listening to what the mothers of children with autism have been saying for years-which is that we vaccinated our babies and something happened. That's it." - pp 235-236
Many people might scoff at the idea of "mommy instinct". Offit is certainly negative about McCarthy & sees her subsequent appearances on other TV shows & a bk she wrote & toured w/ as big moneymakers. I, on the other hand, consider instinct & intuition to be very important. Instinct is a sense acquired from evolution, science is learning acquired from research. IMO they're both valid but when one is unsure about what to trust the most & one's instinct is very strong in a particular direction, I, at least, might go w/ the instinct.
The Holy Ceiling Light knows TV shows are going for ratings & not responsible advice so I can't really disagree w/ Offit's criticisms there - but Offit's not really 100% critical of the mass media, he just likes the people on the 'right side' of the debate sticking it to the media so that vaccines won't be criticized.
"Jenkins knew that seventy-four children had died of influenza in 2007 and more than 300 had died in the previous four years. She mentioned this statistic in her letter and continued, "ABC will bear responsibility for the needless suffering and potential deaths of children from parents' decision not to immunize based on the content of the [Eli Stone] episode."" - p 245
What does the CDC have to say about what Jenkins 'knew'?:
"How many people died from flu during the 2007-2008 season?
"Exact numbers of how many people died from flu this season cannot be determined. Flu-associated deaths (which have laboratory confirmed influenza), are only a nationally notifiable condition among children; however not all pediatric influenza deaths may be detected and reported and there is no requirement to report adult deaths from influenza. In addition, many people who die from flu complications are not tested, or they seek medical care later in their illness when flu can no longer be detected from respiratory samples. However, CDC tracks pneumonia and influenza (P&I) deaths through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System. This system collects information each week on the total number of death certificates filed in each of the 122 participating cities and the number of death certificates with pneumonia or influenza listed as a cause of death. The 122 Cities Mortality Reporting system helps gauge the severity of a flu season compared with other years. However, only a proportion of all P&I deaths are influenza-related and, as noted, most flu deaths are not lab confirmed. Thus, this system does not allow for an estimation of the number of deaths, only the relative severity among different influenza seasons. For the 2007-2008 season, the proportion of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza was higher than the previous two years, but was similar to the 2004-2005 season."
It's interesting that Jenkins 'knew' such exact figures while the CDC didn't. It's also interesting that the Stone episode aired on January 31, 2008, & that it's a fictional show. According to the CDC, as quoted above, the 2007-2008 season was of the same severity as the 2004-2005 season, 3 yrs before the Stone show. But who am I to argue w/ the statistics of one of the "False Prophets" that Offit supports? Or shd I call them "False Offits". My point is that such assertions as that people wdn't've died if a fictional TV show hadn't featured a certain opinion is really stretching the 'scientific method' beyond breaking, a bit like popping a bubble-gum balloon.
"["]You can expect that if any child were to become seriously ill or die from a lack of inoculation in the years following airing of this episode of Eli Stone</i> . . . then lawyers like myself will hold ABC responsible for the damage the televsion show caused."" - p 246
I find that even more ludicrous than sonar depuration & facilliated communication for the severely autistic. People don't die from not being inoculated. People can die from a lack of air to breathe, it's called suffocation; people can die from a lack of food to eat, it's called starvation - but I haven't been inoculated in 54 yrs & I'm still alive: if a lack of inoculation were to cause death, I'd be dead & I'm not. The whole premise of the scaremongering behind pro-vaccination positions is that if people aren't vaccinated they'll die. This is a fantasy, it's an unproveable assertion based on statistical projections, prophecies, & the people Offit supports are just as much "False Prophets" as the ones he rejects.
"A growing body of evidence now points to the genes that are linked to autism; and despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines in 2001, the number of children with autism continues to rise." - p 247
Given the way that people bandy about prophecy in relation to such matters, what's to stop someone from saying something like: 'If thimerosal hadn't been removed from vaccines the number of autistic people would have been four times what it was!? Is that sensational enuf for you?
For what it's worth (& I'm not claiming to be a world expert on such things, only a person w/ a somewhat informed opinion), I think the notion of the 'autism spectrum' does more harm than good b/c it lumps together people w/ low functionality & high functionality. SO, for the moment, when I refer to a person as "autistic" in this paragraph I mean people w/ low functionality. I think it's worth considering autism as a developmental retardation (to use old school language) that can be brought about by anything that lessens the mind's functionality. That can mean genes, that can mean toxins, it cd mean vaccines - what it doesn't mean is that every possible cause has to be present in every case or that every possible cause even has to have the same outcome.
To "Autism's False Prophets"'s credit, there're endnotes starting on p 249 (although, as I noted earlier, I wd prefer that they were more specifically referential), there's a selected bibliography from 283-284, there're acknowledgements on p 285, & there's an index from 287-298. SO, scholars take note.
In the long run, I didn't find this bk completely useless - but I do wholeheartedly question what strikes me as its unacknowledged subtext, an arrogance that the worldview it represents is axiomatic for everyone & we just need to 'see the light of reason'. I think Offit & the people Offit commends are just as much "False Prophets" as the people he condemns. As long as the basis of his self-righteousness is unproveable assertions, predictions based on systems as open to weakness as any other, then the predictions uttered as if they're absolute fact will be prime targets for scepticism on my part, a scepticism too profound for me to feel like I'm on the same side as Offit.
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